KWBU's National Poetry Month Series: Ginger Hanchey

Apr 9, 2019

For National Poetry Month in April, KWBU is highlighting four local poets to share what influences their work as well as how they entered into the medium. 

Our first poet is Ginger Hanchey.

Hanchey is a lecturer at Baylor University. She specializes in Old English poetics and has had her poems published in several journals like Nashville Review, Foundry and Tar River Poetry. Her debut book, Letters of a Long Name, is available for pre-order now, but will come out on July 19, 2019. 

Three examples of Ginger's poetry are below. All three will be featured in her new book, Letters of a Long Name.

Milk

He lived on IV fluids for months.

Even the smallest trace of milk caused him to vomit blood.

They told me to keep pumping, how good it would be for 

his system if he could ever tolerate food.

And in this distorted dream world, I let it be my mother-love

(the grief and the milk both in endless supply),

a way to express something even if the pots of ink were white.

I didn't see it until later, like in a dream

that unfolds after waking, but you were there doing this:

taking the bottles of milk in the night

when I pumped them, or in the day, pouring them

off into meal-apportioned bottles - so careful not

to spill - and with black ink registering

the day and the hour of our love, so that now,

after the dream, when I stand at the freezer, 

I see row after row of our duet of prayer and elegy

stored against the day when he would live. 

_________________________________________________________________________

Visiting the Memory Care Ward

My grandmother said he only ever cried once, 

when his mother died, briefly as a light rain even then. 

Today I don't think he knows me until he tucks his chin

to his chest and weeps, says he wants to go home. 

He drinks cranberry juice from a styrofoam cup and my 

3-year-old watches him delightedly, drinks when he drinks.

In the far corner a woman lies on a ration of sunshine,

big body curled up confident, cat like. 

Another approaches, berates us with profane words, exhorts us

back to work. My grandmother says she once managed an airplane 

production line, implies there was something in the metal, 

seeds of dementia. When my mother was growing up, 

my grandfather spent evenings in the garage, 

built a P-40 fighter plane 70% to scale, flew it himself. 

I hold the day's disturbances in my hand like stones,

run my fingers over them until sleep takes them, gives me

other memories of being in class again staring at 

Old English manuscripts with students: them noting the

strange writing, long trains of thorny letters running margin

to margin, words cutting into words. 

Me telling them someone will come along and piece out

the units of thought, add punctuation and white space,

will find the 4-beat lines, lay them down in a shape on the page, 

give it a title. 

___________________________________________________________________________

On the Brazos

By the river my brother was named for,

my two sons jump from rock to rock, 

big one loping in front of the small one. 

I nearly lost them both:

One to a failing body,

the other to the grief that almost overwhelmed me. 

They are my two miracles, 

like the gift of the river, and the gift of the land. 

The younger one jumps wildly and the rock catches him every time.

The older one tires, comes up beside me, puts his arms around my waist. 

Happiness spreads beneath my skin like a bruise. 

___________________________________________________________________________

KWBU's next installment of the poetry series will be Tuesday, April 16, 2019.