Shucking Corn


The easy afternoon kisses my hands
where they settle, pressed
into the husk of the ear—
green, still damp from the soil.
 
My grandmother rips those leaves,
removes the silk and snaps the shank
without hesitation—
I’m too aware of my clumsy fingers,
tripping over themselves
as I peel strand by silken strand
from the beaded kernels.
 
Piano fingers she called them
when I missed too many notes,
long and graceful.
I catch her, sometimes,
looking at her own hands,
gingerly assessing those twisted joints,
catch her tapping out hymns
on the gap-toothed keys Wednesday mornings.
 
There is a pile of husks strewn
on today’s newspaper, the headline
blank-staring from underneath
another refugee turned away
and I stumble again: the breath, this time.
 
Maybe it’s the wrinkled skin
that makes mine seem so soft
unspotted from days in the sunshine
like hers—the farmer’s daughter.
Like so many other days spent learning
how to bake, to sew, to pick ripened strawberries.
 
Those moments dripped soft
like melted butter pooling under steaming corn—
I haven’t found my calling.
What is it to walk,
unencumbered into waiting church benches,
to look at moving hands
and not falter?
There’s so much to learn:
how to save a world, how to shuck corn.
As originally published in SKy ISland Journal in the Summer 2019 issue

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