Jane Zwart

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Jane Zwart

Stay Tender Somehow

Dina writes, and I pick up my pencil. I wish
I could call the place it comes to rest, the small
and grooved knob on my fourth finger, a cradle

but it is a callus, stubborn as an uncooked lentil.
I think about my grandmother’s sleeping gloves,
about how my aunt could not be entirely gentle

jimmying her mother’s embalmed
fingers into their silk, appointed tunnels,
saying She never slept soundly without them.

I think about the tiny mitts that keep infants
from scratching their faces, about how my sons
napping in summer looked like prize-fighters

felled–high-waisted diapers and flimsy shorts,
hands balled inside gauntlets. Some blessings
fire and backfire so sweetly. Stay tender is one.


Jane Zwart reads “Stay Tender Somehow”

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and magazines.