Seasonal Self Portrait

by Kristina Woodhill

I am the woman
with the yellow-handled
metal shovel,
both of us
slim and straight,
cores of steel,
gift of our Makers

In spring and summer
I dig into the land around me,
help neighbors clean
our irrigation ditch,

uncover from our annual conversations
pearls of information
about their family histories,
as we are still newcomers after 40 years

I wiggle the soil for seeds
to enter our garden rows,
nudge out the mallow and puncture vine
before they ground cover us all,

gently wedge out in autumn
bright orange carrots
royal purple beets
shiny, iridescent onions

some for the pickling
some for crunchy sticks,
the rest into the deep freeze

In winter I dig up dead people,
dust off their bones,
invite them inside
out of the wind and wet

I offer them human heat,
they give me cold computer facts
of ancestors' marriages and children
and their children's children

They help me delve through
fuzzy photos of bearded grim men
and I bring up a faded image
of great, great Grandmother
Nancy Ellen Hart McMilan

wearing a filthy, hole-pocked dress,
bless her heart,
her face of resignation
telling the rest of her story

But the bones know
what I'm really digging for,
that mystery behind Death's door,
that open and shut case,
that one-sided page of information,
so many blanks still empty

and they shush each other
and smile that special smile

then tell me I'll just have to dig
a little deeper

I am the woman
with the yellow-handled
metal shovel


Author's Note: We've been working on Self Portrait poems, an interesting and open-ended form

Posted on 02/10/2019
Copyright © 2022 Kristina Woodhill

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 02/12/19 at 10:54 AM

This is simply beautiful writing, Kristina. ‘Tis truly wonderful and accommodating, this life of yours that you capture so well with your pen aka yellow shovel.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 05/25/19 at 04:55 PM

Nice one Kristina. I see some of myself in this one.

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