Jeanine Stevens


for my Mother

Uncle Jon warms bricks for our feet.
The horse snorts white clouds in icy air.
We cross the river in frozen dark.
We pull blankets over our shoulders.

In the schoolroom, I fill a large pan
with water, place it on the iron woodstove
heat lunches in glass jars—
leftovers: soup, stew, bacon chunks and bread.

Older students work on their own,
today—geography.  Chile is a red slash
on the map (we are told "pronounce it She-lay")
a bright spot lighting up homespun and denim.

By afternoon, windows steam.
Younger children practice cursives:
 up, down, down, down—thick pencils
scratch, boots tap and scrape the raspy floor.
Uncle Jon warms bricks for the ride home.
On our laps, quilt squares hold pale sun.
In the dusk, the river is gray and bleak    
and the horse must be fed before dark.

Jeanine Stevens has four poetry collections, the most recent, Eclipse, from Rattlesnake Press. She received awards from the Stockton Arts Commission, The Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference, and the Ina Coolbrith Competition.  Her poem, "Trade Goods," in Ekphrasis, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Her work has also appeared in Poet Lore, The South Dakota Review, Alehouse, and Poetry Depth Quarterly, among others. She earned her Master’s Degree from California State University, and has completed postgraduate work at University of California, Davis, and Berkeley, including the Oxford-Berkeley Program.  She attended workshops and classes led by Dorianne Laux, Lola Haskins, Brenda Hillman, Robert Hass, and Susan Kelley Dewitt.  Jeanine divides her time between the Sacramento Valley and Lake Tahoe.



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