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A Poem on Giving, from To The People

27 Mar 2020

From issue 02 of To The People, a zine by YTTP Studios

on giving 
by Kinsale Hueston

in Utah, 
on land that was supposed to never grow
a thing, 
my grandmother coaxed up blue corn with rusty water,
thumbed the tumbleweeds from the newborn sprouts.
I saw her in the frozen dawn,
breath tumbling, alive, from her lips, diffused and lost
within the stalks. 
she must have fed the entire community 
with the fury of her love—beans spilling
over the sides of her baskets, our palms full
of grain and squash. we learned to smile with our mouths
full. I remember bucking car rides in truck-beds
to the chapter house, the extra food thrown to stray dogs,
the cups of lemonade passed to children, a yard sale,
the smell of green chile and do-good sweat.
this woman, a blur of chapped hands and thin limbs raised
on commodity meals, her smile lines deepened by the sun, 
taught us how to give.
in the shade of her garden, 
she showed us how to plant our feet.
we upturned soil and counted the potato bugs.
at night, we roasted the corn we grew together
over the fire pit and gave half of everything we had
to the families next door. 
years after my grandmother passed,
the town our family calls home remembers her—
always giving more than they could ever
return. her home has become a haven of memories
of women 
talking with their hands and mother-tongues
under the yellow light, teaching us words for love,
sister, home, alive—lyrics we carry
like legacies. we glow with the dreams
of these women—the ones they strung together
with their hardened hands so we would never know
the kind of pain that shatters and refuses the stubborn bloom 
of spring. instead, we know open doors and affection
that bridges generations. we know the circles of giving
that stretch skyward from dirty knees and pumpkin seeds 
and sunflowers that sway before us in the morning light.

Photography by Tyana Arviso

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