Shutta Crum

How Poetry Reframes the Moment

Take, for example,
the gravel you kicked up on the farm lane.
With a twist of memory,
it becomes eroding words between brothers—
the field between them unplowed.

Or catch the sound of a tree
as it groans against another, crescendo-ing
into the misfiring of your grandfather’s tractor.
The old International Harvester
grinding off into the bluster of years.

Or reframe the way water
undermines the banks of the creek bed.
Now, it’s the arthritis eating at the dust-coloured dog—
known only as Boy—
who would crank himself up to greet you at the gate.

Or observe how a day takes its time devolving into night.
Isn’t that the same as the blackening of the wax seals
on your grandmother’s canned green beans?
Tireless Mason Jar sentinels.

And that intrusive thump-crack! of a log-splitter echoing
repeatedly from your uncle’s farm next door? Reframe that,
and it’s your grandmother’s scarred hands plucking
and slapping at the wrinkles in the checkered tablecloth
when they told her of your grandfather’s last worship—
fallen, spread-eagled, upon the stubbled earth he’d loved.

Now, look out toward the hedgerow in the distance.
Know that it scratches a ragged line in the dirt.
Follow it inward and remember the crumpled letter
shoved to the back of a drawer in your grandparents’ room,
and the single silk stocking you found in a heart shaped box—
its dark seam woven of regret.

Then stand still amid the persistence of fireflies
and the sheer doggedness of that thin wind from the creek.
For the poet, that’s become the stubborn run of seasons
wearying the abandoned International to rust,
and the silence just after your grandmother muttered,
“Who’s going to harvest the melons?”

More than 100 of Shutta Crum’s poems have appeared in literary journals. These include Typehouse, Stoneboat, Orchards, Better Than Starbucks, Nostos, Main Street Rag, Southern Poetry Review, and Beyond Words. Forthcoming in Plainsongs and Mom Egg Review. Her chapbook When You Get Here won a gold Royal Palm Literary Award (FL, USA). She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is, also, the author of thirteen picture books and three novels. Website: