Arts & Culture · Poetry

Poetry Sunday: Roll, Fold, Turn

We are all emboldened by a winning pattern, a practice. We learn to rise above what hurts us. This maternal tribute by poet Cindy Stewart-Rinier carries its own weight.


2945796839_752d4b4e6f_zImage by Luca Rossato


Polaroid of My Mother

There you are in your coral-colored pantsuit,
1972, though your spray-stiffened hair holds
something of a ’60s Sophia Loren glamour
as you knead the bread dough from which
your eyes have momentarily risen.

Your mouth is a candid startle, slightly open,
perhaps on its way to Don’t or No, deflection
your reflex. It was early in your second marriage,
when his violence was a yeast just beginning
to feed on your sweetness.

I studied the way you leveraged weight
into the heels of your palms, pushed the pale belly
of dough into itself and away in a rhythm
of roll, fold, turn, roll, fold, turn, movement
and reposition a pattern, a practice.

I’ve never forgotten what you said that day,
long after the camera came down to hang slack
by its strap at my side. I wanted to know if you
were all right in the aftermath of your latest fight
with my step-father.

You lifted the tea towel from the top of the bowl,
smiled, and punched down the doubled dough.
The madder you are, you said,
the better the bread, air escaping
like a thousand exhalations.


This poem first appeared, in a slightly different version, in VoiceCatcher in 2013, and is reprinted by permission of the author.


Cindy_Stewart-RinierCindy Stewart-Rinier holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop. Her work has appeared in journals such as Calyx, The Smoking Poet, Crab Creek Review, Ascent, Naugatuck River Review, VoiceCatcher, and New American Voices. Since 2011, four of her poems have been nominated for Pushcarts. By day, Cindy teaches Pre-Kindergarten, but she also periodically conducts evening poetry writing workshops for the Mountain Writers Series in Portland, Oregon.


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  • Gerry McFarland August 10, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    I am a retired older man who writes a lot of poetry. I once ran a weekly court-ordered group of men convicted of domestic violence. Tough group. Most were resentful, angry, and denied any violence. As a Viet Nam Veteran, USN, I am acquainted with the violence of men. One wife called and told me she and her husband were “actually talking.” Another became happier. Sometimes they actually listened. There is hope.

  • Jim January 22, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Good poem Cindy, sad but good

  • Toni Myers January 13, 2015 at 12:12 am


  • Gail January 11, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Gorgeous poem