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When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.—Lisel Mueller


When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about my father’s bruised
thumbnail, how my father, grandfather
and uncles, carpenters all,
stride the bare trusses of my childhood
in cracked work boots, each
with one ridged fingernail turning
purple then black then yellow forever.
They are building our home again
out of things that can hurt them—
concrete blocks and rough wood
and nails longer than my fingers.

My mother collects all the dropped
nails and shingles, singing hymns
and John Denver songs.


Amy Watkins is a poet, visual artist and graduate of Spalding University’s brief residency MFA program. Her poems have appeared in The MacGuffin, The Pedestal and The Louisville Review, which nominated her for a 2006 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, daughter and maniacal mixed breed dog.

© 2008, Amy Watkins

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