Her Hands

This was written a week and a half ago... and I updated the tense... life continues to be ever so slightly busy and off kilter...

"Yesterday" was a chaotic day of trying to decide if we had time, and could that time be stretched to cover all the bases.  It was decided that time would tear if stretched that far unless we used two people.
So my husband went alone to his dying mother's side, he was already more than half-way there in Southern Maine.  I'm glad that we could stretch it that far.  But I missed supporting my mother-in-law and my husband in this hour. 

She was not one to stand on ceremony and would tell you that you didn't need to attend any old funeral for her.  But I know in her heart she still would care.  My daughter and I made the 11+ hour drive to Presque Isle a week and a half ago for her service.  It was a long but leisurely drive once we got into Maine.  Half of the trip is outside of Maine, half is just Maine.
Northern Maine has not always been near and dear to my heart.  I didn't know it existed until I met my husband to be.  At that point I began learning about The County, and all the different types of potatoes and how the sky was just as big over oceans of potatoes as it is over the water. 
There are very few places in this world I could live besides near the ocean, and Aroostook County is one of them. My first year teaching was in the small town where my husband was born and spent his entire pre-marriage life.  Winters are cold, the snows are deep, and the wind howls as it piles up drifts over the roads and covers windows.

I will miss going up there for family gatherings.  Our connection is gone.  A strong woman has strode off into heaven.  She was plowing to the post.  She made it.   Straight and narrow... and now everything is opened up wide and beautiful... maybe even prettier than Aroostook County potato fields.

Her Hands

Her hands were gnarled
with veins like maps
of where she'd been
and beans she'd snapped.

They worked the fields
and picked the rocks
released from winter
fields unlocked.

From wet of bogs
To widest lands
Fiddleheads and berries
Knew her hands.
They hung the wash
on lines outside
Till County's heavenly
breezes dried.

Her hands could bake
and they could sew
They planted trees
and they could mow.

When came the fall,
and frosty weather
Her hands slipped into
Gloves of leather.

Katahdins, Mountains
From deep, rich soil -
Her hands helped glean
The County's oil.

Hand in hand
Beside her men -
God knows she'd
Do it all again.

And though her hands
are now at rest,
Proof still remains
her hands had blessed. 

by Donna JT Smith

It's Poetry Friday.  I'm late, but I've squeezed in a bit of poetry at the end.
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink is hosting today!


  1. Your mother-in-law sounds like a woman who got things done! A person who used her talents and loved the earth. My condolences on her passing.

    1. She was a very busy, determined, strong and talented woman. I learned so much from her.

  2. I am sending you and your husband, sincerest condolences, Donna. Your poem is a living tribute to a woman who sounds like she was the salt of the earth as she lived a life of service to her family. Plowing to the end-amazing! Thanks for stopping by and offering poetry. I was going to write to you to remind you but you beat me to it.

    1. Thanks, Carol. She worked hard...not much playing...but lots of laughter!

  3. I love reading your introduction, too, Donna, & the sweet poetic tribute to your mother-in-law. Women of her time are those we need to know about, those who inspire us to be strong, too. How loving that you wrote for her. I imagine she loves it.

    1. We are not making women like her much anymore. I hope she loves it!

  4. Donna, what a beautiful tribute....but also a solid poem. I love how I got to know your MIL through these words. What a treasure your family has lost, I'm so sorry. I hope every memory is a blessing.

    1. Thanks, Linda. I don't know how the world is going to replace these strong women. I'm not seeing many of them anymore...nor the men, for that matter.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law. She sounds amazing!

  6. Your mother in law sounds like quite an amazing woman, and your poetic tribute to her is lovely. I am so sorry for your loss--she sounds like someone many people will miss.

    1. She will be remembered fondly by many friends, and her whole family!

  7. I'm so sorry about your mother-in-law, Donna. You wrote a beautiful poem and a beautiful tribute. No doubt it was appreciated from Heaven.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. She always liked reading my poems, so I do hope she liked this one, too!

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