Category Archives: Wallace, Helen

I Pocket Bones (of a deer?)

by Helen Wallace

dropped beside an oak,
       a bulbous curve of hock,
a few hulled ribs,

and love how a socket swallows
       what isn’t there, the joint
                              Who was it
planted the maples
in perfect rows, straight

as a firing line?       And whose
        astonishing death,
their red eruptions?

Helen Wallace’s first collection of poems, Shimming the Glass House, won the Richard Snyder Prize and was published by Ashland Poetry Press, then received a Florida Book Award in 2008. Individual poems have been published in several journals/anthologies. She received her Ph.D. in English/Creative Writing from Florida State University, and is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Eckerd College where she teaches poetry and creative nonfiction.


What is the origin of “I Pocket Bones (of a deer?)”?

    While walking in the woods of western North Carolina I stumbled on a small pile of bones I couldn’t identify—the impetus for this poem. Often what I don’t know prompts writing. Red maples bursting along a path prodded the metaphor. To me, these images suggested what I think is the poem’s heart:
    1) our attempt to fight mortality/chaos; 2) our inability to prevail, and 3) the startling beauty in our mutual impermanence. At some point these “ideas” become the half-buried bones of the poem—I ask the images and music (flesh and blood) to take over. It’s through these, our shared matter, that I have the best chance of inviting a reader into my work.