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Listening to Southern Women
Tina Hacker

My friends' words amble toward me in sentences
brimming with leisure and graceful as a gauzy summer dress.
We are four women having coffee on a warm Alabama morning,
and I am a guest from Chicago sharing the comfort of caffeine.
My conversation is like a strand of glass beads,
each word tightly tied to the other, a string of plosive sounds.
I pause to breathe, every thought in place, and wait for a reply.
Their words undulate close to me, browsing the beads.
They hold up one and then another.
The women's thoughts glide over mine with unhurried ease
as they consider and savor my meaning,
taking time to sip some coffee,
to admire the garden, to pause before moving on.
My mouth opens and words rush out
to fill each second of their silence.
I complete their sentences, guess conclusions.
My sentences push and pull. 
Theirs wait with polite patience.
While I struggle into stillness, a cat stretches at my feet.
And once more, the humid air around me
fills with the strolling interplay
of words and ideas that find time sweet.

This poem first appeared in Potpourri,1999.
Used here with the author’s permission.

Tina Hacker says she wrote her first poem in her sophomore year in college, after getting a nasty note from a girl in her dorm that said, “Three things cannot be learned: poetry, generosity and a singing voice.” After writing every spare minute for a year, Tina had poems published in two university journals, proving at least one point of that note wrong. Since then, Tina has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times. She lives in Leawood, Kansas.


Post New Comment:
I LOVE this poem. So beautiful, so subtle, so filled with truth.
Posted 06/19/2013 06:02 PM
I like the contrasts in this poem -- the energy and the contemplative in action. "graceful as a gauzy summer dress", "...finding time sweet"--how sweet. Very nice poem.
Posted 06/19/2013 08:59 AM
What skillful intertwining of words. Truly impressive.
Posted 06/19/2013 07:48 AM
What a magnificent poem!!! I am touched by its meaning and music!
Posted 06/19/2013 07:40 AM
Love it or leave it, Charly!!
Posted 06/19/2013 07:28 AM
She grabbed me with "And I am a guest from Chicago sharing the comfort of caffeine," and never let go.
Posted 06/19/2013 06:25 AM
I love this poem. Outspoken expression vitally illuminates convention.
Posted 06/19/2013 06:10 AM

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