Ann Marie Wranovix

Ninny's Rolls


First we measured the flour
in a chipped cup lined
with cracks like the veins under your skin.
We made four white mountains, joined
at their bases, on a sheet of newspaper,
our hands hovering over the range
of possibilities.

“Use only one cup,” you told me,
so we took it again to test the yeast
for life. Warm islands rose to the face
of the water, white bubbles on a brown pond,
smelling of mud and milk. Hand by hand
together we cleared a space
on the table. We let it work.

We worked till the dough was there.
I held the bowl and beat
till my arms ached, till mere
beating seemed all there was to do, heat
dropped from my head, my hair,
“keep going,” you said, “don’t stop
till it shines like satin.” Like silk.
Like old ivory.

Exhausted we let the dough rest
and rise.

You showed me the fine reserve
of motion and means: wine bottle for rolling pin,
can for cutting, your fingers curved
around the bottle, back and forth, then
lightly you lifted my hands to help.

Now the dough rests and rises on my shelf.
Light shines through the green glass
of the bottle as I press it
against the swelling blessed
body of the feast
of memory. I still feel your hands over mine.
Already, I smell bread, taste wine.


In Bounds


She’s death on weeds, all right.
No crabgrass, pigweed, chickweed,
ragweed, dandelion, red clover, wild
strawberry litters the lawn
she lives by. Her grass grows
as if on sufferance. The azaleas
wear flat tops. She could serve
dinner on them. No seasonal trees
drop tattered leaves there. Only
the telephone pole casts a shadow.
Birds call politely, then lift off
to build their messy nests somewhere else.

I swing on my front porch and disapprove.
Enjoy her neighbor’s loaded pecan tree
tilted drunkenly toward those sober angles,
the grass poking hopefully through the sidewalk
just down the street from her neat borders.

But sometimes, maybe once a year,
I sit there, still, and flirt with definition.
If it’s spring, I notice my unclipped azalea,
sparse blossoms strung out on long branches,
the crabgrass stalking the lawn,
the holly making prickly inroads
under the awning, its roots
curled, no doubt, like claws
around the sewer pipe. Bamboo
spikes the flowerbed, come
under the wire from next door,
dandelions spew their seed in the front yard.
My children cheer them on.

What dissolution follows?
Will the bricks in the driveway
crumble as the grass grows,
the walls come tumbling down,
even the ragged edges between us
fade as the flower erupts,
as the child draws breath
to blow the seed?

        return to poetry

Ann Marie Wranovix grew up on a farm in West Tennessee, where she learned most of what she knows about work. Currently she teaches literature and writing at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, where she is Professor of Literature and Languages. Her poetry has appeared in Old Hickory Review, Four Quarters, and Christianity and Literature.