Three Poems by Savannah Skinner

Questions for My Mother

Explain this: how the crook of your legs

was made for me. How I fit, curled.

& one day didn’t.

How I’ve outgrown you.

Explain this: some years you came home

smelling the way all new mothers smell,

& that smell is all I remember

of those years.

How before, we were alone.

& one day, we were less alone

& I had sisters

who will never remember

being alone with you.

Here are some things that are the same as saying I love you or I’m sorry,

phrases which in our house are the same

a colander of snap peas shared

three red potatoes slid from your plate to mine, though you are still hungry

your hands working their way through your hair,

                 then mine





The Field at Midnight

my thumb & forefinger

grasping at the fat-bulbed bodies of fireflies

tangled in my hair. 

our house is a house

of constellations, all the bright spots

a punctuation in darkness.

how far back is eternity? when do we begin?

what answers can the night sky give,

that deep blue of summer.

my mother’s hands

are the hands of the mothers before her

 & I do not have my mother’s hands,

opalescent half-moons of every nail.

my mother’s hands run their fingers across

my forehead, pull me out of dreams

to the field beyond the tree line,

to watch the stars, unspeaking.

for what is there to say?

what answers can the night sky give?




False Spring on Earth

When I say earth, I mean two things.

             (noun) the place we live

             (verb) my mother 

driving the red foxes from the garden, where they sleep,

deep underground.       & in the garden,

we push our hands into the earth & the earth pushes back,

green shoots of irises, tiger lilies.

They say that for every action,

there’s an equal & opposite reaction, & it goes like this;

a word once spoken, cannot be unspoken.

You love me, & this is what I know of it. Its definition:

pluck any string of any stringed instrument,

once. Love lives in the moment left over,

a quivering in the neck long after the string is still.

                        Did you know the human body is a series of strings,

                        tied together with constrictor knots, orchestrating

                        itself perfectly? (but not always)

This moment is always the same,

my mother reciting Ecclesiastes at the kitchen table.

a ceremony of seasons; a time to love,

& a time to hate, to be born, to die,

& I never know which is which.

My mother’s hands run their fingers over the moon,

as if to ask how do we recall what we’ve lost?

What if it does not come back to us?

There is a time for everything, & now,

it is time to wait for the skies to change.

The field worn down to ice beneath the path home,

& my mother is out walking the length of the river & back,

photographing the ribcage (another way to say cathedral) of a wild rabbit

rearranged by our charm of red foxes,

since returned to us by the earth.

Under every fallen tree,

an articulation of bone.


             (noun) the frost-aired clarity of music

             over windswept snow

             or, where two bones come together

or, my words like seasons spoken aloud;

always arriving,

& rarely in the right order.



Savannah Skinner was born and raised in the northernmost reaches of Appalachia. She is a poet, reader, and beginning violinist. She teaches English at a middle school in rural Western New York. She holds a BA in English and History, and an MSEd in Education. Her poems have appeared in Gandy Dancer and in various self-published projects.