Big Granny

Tess Taylor Click to

TESS TAYLOR, the 2010-2011 Amy Clampitt Resident, has received writing fellowships from Amherst College, the American Antiquarian Society, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. Her chapbook, The Misremembered World, was published by the Poetry Society of America, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Review, the Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, The Times Literary Supplement, Memorious, and The New Yorker. Her book The Forage House will appear from Red Hen in 2013.

[audio:|titles=Big Granny]

When they found Emeline, a nail
held her sack dress together

at the neck.  She lived by gathering herbs
to sell for curing leather from the land

her people held since they took it from the Cherokee,
quilted mountainsides in Appalachia

where they hewed walnut into rocking chairs,
and sang the stony country’s blessings be,

and ballads carried in their ears from Scotland.
From my grandmother, her granddaughter,

I have one word in her dialect: stime.
Long-ah, half-rhyme with steam, its meaning: not enough.

As, there’s nary stime of tea nor sugar nar.
In iron light, in that mountain graveyard

her clan’s settler stones grow up with moss
thick as the harmonies in shape note tune.

In the woods, a shadowy foundation:
They took apart her house to save the boards.