Rosalie Hendon


You tell the best stories.
Details haunt me, years later–
your friend planting glass beads in her garden,
Alzheimer’s dulling her artistry.
Your nurse mother’s diligence and sacrifice
as she saved you from polio.
You walking my dad to preschool,
his eyes closed the whole way,
trusting your voice to guide him.

You taught us grandkids
card games and animal tracks,
plants and stars.
How girls can pee in the woods.
How to carry pots into the forest,
the easier to collect blueberries.
Pouring them out in a blue-purple wave,
sorting the green fruit, the sticks and leaves and ants.

You taught me when to harvest potatoes,
to savor the crunch of sugar snap peas.
You taught me how to sweeten plain yogurt
with honey and vanilla,
the difference that Penzey’s spices make.
You taught me bread can be frozen, and milk in a pinch.

A lifetime of buying gallons of milk
because they were cheaper than quarts.
A lifetime of cutting your husband’s hair.
A basement of canned goods and jugs of water,
treated with iodine and labeled by year.

One summer I insisted on my own room.
At 14, I decided I was too old to share with my brother.
“What a queen of May!” you remarked archly,
and I knew I should have felt chastised
from the context,
but I so enjoyed the Shakespearan ring to it,
the novelty. A queen of May,
I whispered to myself in the silence of my solitary room.

You are the center of our family,
the breeze in the pines,
sharing all the news from Minnesota to Virginia
to Tennessee to Florida, back to Ohio.

I love how you say “measure”,
and your southern roots.
You were born in Indian Territory before
it was named Oklahoma.
You took your life in your hands,
married a near-stranger and moved to California.
“I always wanted to marry an English professor,” you joked.
Your masters in Spanish lit,
your careful conjugation–
20 years of dust shook off in an instant.

I love your hands, Grandma,
and how they show what you’ve overcome.
I love your voice, the cadence of it,
when you tell stories or read aloud.
I love your eyes, so bright and so blue.

As a girl, riding beside your dad,
marking the rural miles in inches
for future electric lines,
did you imagine all you would see?
The traveling, the meals, the cars,
the summers in Canada,
the cries of the loons on the Lake of the Woods?
The sigh of the jack pines
from your open window?


How to stir my starter
and watch for bubbles
and track its growth with a rubber band.

What brand of flour is superior.
To use only warm, filtered water.

How to lift the dough and shake it,
bouncing it like a babe held under the arms.
How to fold it, springy and soft,
turning the bowl a quarter-turn,
and fold again.

How to cut shapes with a razor,
delicate vines and leaves along the floury top.
How to judge the golden-brown color
and the sound the bread makes when rapped with knuckles.

How to freeze and thaw.
How to give away fresh bread,
yeasty and sour,
with a bite that both resists and yields.
Soft, hardy bread perfect to slather with butter or jam.

The slow grace of a day spent in baking.
The simplicity: flour, water, salt, and time.
Shaping something nourishing with my two hands.

Rosalie Hendon is an environmental planner living in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and many house plants. She started a virtual poetry group in 2020 during quarantine that has collectively written over 200 poems. Her work is published in Change Seven, Planisphere Q, Call Me [Brackets], Entropy, Pollux, Superpresent, Cactifur, Fleas on the Dog, and Red Eft Review. Rosalie is inspired by ecology, relationships, and stories passed down through generations.