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traces her finger along the grout, thinking
she could change her name
to something like Yori Shinobu. Maybe then
she’d find ancient grace, seventh century
trust, the blessing in every fifth wind

to write poetry about one time
when, yes, he admitted to wandering.
But no, he never strayed. The Season
of Tall Grass would speak of sheep
in high plain meadows, three octaves


of bells with their bonging comfort
soothing her, telling her in which fields
they foraged, at which stream they
balked. Her heart would beat

in cadence, thunderclouds from the sea
would wait, crossing divides and skimming
ridges to find her near the unlatched gate,
before clapping out a rain burst. In this way

she might become wise and giving. Maybe
loosen her shawl and turn back to her hearth.

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SHERRY O'KEEFE, mother to two, sibling to four, and cousin to dozens is the author of Making Good Use of August and The Peppermint Bottle. A descendent of Irish-Montana pioneers, she attended MSU-B on a music scholarship and studied rehabilitation counseling. Too many years of counting to four repeatedly and thriving on the off-beat playing viola in a handful of Northwestern symphonies still influence her work. Her most current work has appeared in Camas: The Nature of the West, Switched-on Gutenberg, THEMA, Sugar Mule, Terrain. Org., PANK, Avatar Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Prick of the Spindle, Inkwell, Pirene’s Fountain, Right Hand Pointing and Escape Into Life. She is the poetry editor for IthacaLit, co-editor at YB Journal and an assistant poetry editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal. A full collection of her poetry, Cracking Geodes Open, is under consideration and a collection of her creative nonfiction essays, On the Corner of First and Prairie, is scheduled to be released in 2013. Visit her at: Too Much August.

5 responses to “A woman standing by the stone wall”

  1. Stuart Barnes says:

    beautiful poem, sherry

  2. Shelley says:

    I like the idea of the name change.

    Just reading a book I’d recommend: Broken English by Heather McHugh.

    An interesting way to look at Dickinson.

    • thank you, shelley! i’ve always wondered if a different name would reset the framework in one’s emotional world. and thanks for the book suggestion. i’ve ordered it.

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