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Thick Socks

March 25, 2010

by Sara Parrell


How many times did my mother remind me
I must wear socks?
Thin white anklets inviting patent leather to church.
Rolled bobby socks dating laced tennies–
older sisters taught me the look.
My dresser drawers never knew the shape and heft
of thick socks. When I grew older and began
to walk the earth, my feet asked their questions:
How high to the peak?
How deep into river’s current, into sand
below the current? How many times
up and down the barn’s steep stairs?

How fast to the edge?


Yesterday I asked the Holy Ghost for thick socks.
My feet were sore and cold from the climb.
My right great toe buzzed numb,
icy pain shot round the heel.
No one arrived in the evening to wash my feet
carrying a red basin in his arms,
a white cotton towel thrown over his shoulder.
No one asked me to sit upon the rock and dangle
throbbing feet into warm water
drawn from springs. Flesh-and-blood-man
stayed away, night air kept me from sleep.
I called another to care for me,
my own blurred vision, my own red tongue
licking the wind. Wash my feet, I asked.
Dry them like infants, swaddled, kissed.
Stretch a thick sock onto each foot, covering toes,
arc of knowing, heel of memory, thin ankle,
pull it onto the leg like tomorrow.

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Sara Parrell was awarded first prize in the 2008 Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading; Dancing Girl Press published a chapbook including her winning manuscript for the reading. She also won the Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine’s 2007 poetry contest. Her work has appeared in the Lake Wingra Morning anthology, Nocturne (a collaboration with photographer and musician Thomas Ferrella), the Wisconsin Academy Review and other journals. As a pediatric nurse she has practiced and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More recently, she works with children in the public schools. She lives with her husband Grayson Kampschroer in Madison, Wisconsin.

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  1. April 9, 2010 at 11:15 am

    A good coming-of-age poem. Grown now, I must look out for myself, but can’t help yearning for the comforts, the bliss and protections of childhood.

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