Hands and Days

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It was an absolute privilege last year to be involved with the judging of Oxford International Women’s Festival Poetry Competition, and to host the Poetry Night.

I’m currently working with event organiser and mega talented poet Anna Hobson to produce an anthology of all the shortlisted poems, which will be available in March, and one of the things I’m really excited about is giving some blog space here to the three winning entries. So, for the next three weeks, we’ll be showcasing the winning poems, each one of them very very special.

We are beginning today with Emily Uecker’s third placed poem (copyright Emily Uecker – please do not paste stuff from this poem without Emily’s express permission)

Hands and Days


They could not be called shapely, or fine

Two fleshy white soles on wide wrists

Pointer fingers crooked at the tip –

A childhood, sifting beet sprouts from weeds

Under South Dakota skies.


Between them needles sang

Blankets for every baby,

Dishcloths for the daily work,

Afghans, safe in the cedar chest,

For weddings left unseen.


Deft feast for family supper

Triumphant pies, crepes of lace,

Cakes like benediction.


Sundays clasp the hymnal,

Fold contentedly in the lap.

Greet the faithful.


Shuffling cards they wait for a ring,

But make no calls themselves.

Grown, children run like sand

From a clutching fist.


At the funeral, silenced by grief,

More still the vast distance of years,

No one said the words to praise

The works of so many days.


But when the struggle against failing legs,

Lungs, eyes, insides had come to close,

Hands with strength undimmed still

Grasped for human grace.

This entry was posted in great literature and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Hands and Days

  1. toby neal says:

    gorgeous and should have a wide audience.

  2. danholloway says:

    Thank you – I hope we can do something to contribute to a wider audience 🙂

  3. Margaret Hinchey says:

    Emily — that poem is beautiful…and I can see those hands right now. We miss both of your grandparents and you girls and your dad as well. God bless all that you do! Margaret Hinchey

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