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Published: Tue Apr 15 2003
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

My too-sharp lefts kept making the bundle in back
sluice right. I was driving with the dead Nance
in the truck bed. The gas gauge didn’t work
so there was an added worry of running
out of juice. Her word. Her word one
windy evening with the carpets
stripped from a floor, which
surprised us as stone—slate
from the quarry we were
headed to now, but Let’s first have us
some juice, she’d said then, barefoot on bare slate.

The truck-bedded Nance, wrapped in her winding sheet,
thuds left, clunks right. I’m sorry about my driving,
sorry about the million lovely pine moths mottled
on my windshield. Thank God, here’s the quarry,
and there’s the high ledge, where, as a girl long
ago, she’d stepped bravely from the white
towel and stared down. Then she’d held her nose
and leapt out into it—this same cool and radiant air.

See what's inside AGNI 57

Nance Van Winckel is the author of nine poetry collections, the newest of which is The Many Beds of Martha Washington (Lynx House Press, forthcoming 2021), and five books of fiction, including Ever Yrs, a novel in the form of a scrapbook (Twisted Road Publications, 2014), and Boneland: Linked Stories (University of Oklahoma Press, 2013). She teaches in Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program and is visual poetry editor of Poetry Northwest. Her writing has appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology, The Southern ReviewAGNIPoetry Northwest, The Kenyon ReviewFIELDThe American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of two NEA poetry fellowships, the Washington State Book Award, the Paterson Fiction Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Gordon Barber Poetry Award, a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, and three Pushcart Prizes, she lives in Spokane, Washington. (updated 04/2021)

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