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M. Elizabeth Hershey

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SLEIGHT OF HAND

Carol Barrett

My father husked corn the way he shelled

crab, two buckets on the front stoop,


bent over the shiny silk or glistening red

shells, the bigger bucket for compost,


or the sandy drive where oyster backs

already cushioned the tires on his old


bomb of a truck. His gusto, something

to behold, hands deep in the yield, snapping


cobs from stubs of stalks, halving the hot

crabs, coveralls splashed with brine


or beet juice. Limp tops were already set

to mulch strawberries and dahlias late-


blooming by the barn, quelling upstart clover.

My mother interrupted her piecrust, retrieved


the smaller bucket, rinsed it through, gingerly

simmered butter on the wood stove, then


served up platters of plenty, a dash of parsley

from her stash near perennial daisies.


His prayers always dished out gratitude

for the earth and sea, for the floured hands


coupling his in the kitchen. They echoed words

from an earlier time, parsed over a wood


table in need of paint, but graced by cloth

napkins Mother would have ironed


the day Dad tossed his black bag

in the jalopy, drove to a farm far out


the old county road. He worked his magic

with boiled sheets, and brought home the beef.

Carol Barrett holds doctorates in both clinical psychology and creative writing. She coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute and University. Her books include Calling in the Bones, which won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press, Drawing Lessons from Finishing Line Press, and Pansies, a work of creative nonfiction, from Sonder Press. Her creative work has appeared in JAMA, Poetry International, Poetry Northwest, The Women’s Review of Books, and many other venues. A former NEA Fellow in Poetry, she lives in Bend, Oregon.

M. Elizabeth Hershey is a Philadelphia-based freelance photographer who specializes in events and weddings. She continues to pursue artistic endeavors from inks, painting, and paper designs to different photographic projects.

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