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The Art of Kneeling
Kay N. Sanders

The towns of my childhood sloped
across the shoulders of the state
like the fringe of a shawl
curving across the heart,
towns sheltered among red-clay hills
where the Appalachians knelt down,
mist rising like supplication
as they stretched out their hands,
spread fingers to form banks of rivers
with names like Coosa, Tallapoosa,
Etowah, and of lakes named Purdy
and Guntersville and Alexander,
and the smaller bodies of water
we children loved: Harper’s Branch,
Buck Creek, and the creek with no name,
the one where we challenged each other,
members of The Girls’ Adventure Club–
No Boys Allowed, to walk the log
that spanned the banks, the one we knew
that Linda was afraid to cross. 
From our stance of success, we looked
at her through the fringe of our lashes,
a silent, measuring squint. Her shoulders
drooped, and she sank to her knees,
eyes clouded with a moisture
that began to lift as she stretched out
upon the fallen tree, fingers clutching
the rough bark. Pulling herself along,
pushing with her feet,
she reached the other side. 

This poem won 1st Honorable Mention in the 2008 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Triad contest, Theme: Water.
Used here with the author’s permission.


Kay N. Sanders, a native Southerner who now lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, grew up hearing her mother and maternal aunts recite poetry, sing songs, argue, tell stories, quote scripture and even cuss, now and then. How could she not become a poet? She married a Connecticut Yankee and has made Wisconsin her home since 1965. Kay has worked in a variety of positions, including substitute teaching, which she says "hones a person to pay attention--in case raising five children didn't." Her chapbook, That Red Dirt Road, was published by Parallel Press in May of 2010; a second poetry manuscript, "Traveling Light," is in progress.

Post New Comment:
Kay, I had you on my mind and decided to 'Google' you. Somehow I lost track of you in the last few years... Love you,
Posted 09/15/2011 04:19 PM
Ralph Murre:
Sometimes, Kay, I think the wonderful lyricism is just in your spoken voice, but it is good to be reminded that you put it on the page, as well. Wish I could do that more often.
Posted 06/30/2011 09:49 PM
What a wonderful beginning! I loved the first 3 stanzas. And then we get to that great description of the girls and then we see brave Linda. Bravo!
Posted 06/30/2011 09:59 AM
Kay, I bought Red Dirt Road and think it a beautiful collection of poems. This one is a favorite.
Posted 06/30/2011 09:51 AM
Subtly spiritual and powerful.
Posted 06/30/2011 09:36 AM
Still writing poems I LOVE to read. Write on Kay. I'm a fan. Bonney Oelschlager.
Posted 06/30/2011 07:39 AM
Love this, Kay. I bought Red Dirt Road at the last conf, and it's a beautiful collection. Thanks!!
Posted 06/30/2011 06:50 AM
Kay, what a wonderful poem, thank you for starting my day so well:) Hugs from Ireland Maire x
Posted 06/30/2011 05:02 AM

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