Hugging While Female. The leaders were men
and women; attendants, only girls. The boys
played basketball in the other half of the gym;
We learned to prevent chest-to-chest contact
with a well-placed hand at chest level.
I used to hug my young uncles
at annual family barbeques. Their arms
would loop loosely around my kidbody,
one hand maybe patting my back.
When I scuttle in sideways like a crab,
they are confused. Their loose arms reach further
to hold me long-ways. I rest my obedient hand
on their chest as I’ve been told, only it feels
so close, so lingering, so intimate, so
I back away instead, turn to hug my aunts.
~ Katelyn Roth
Katelyn Roth holds degrees in English and Psychology and will be defending her Master’s thesis in Poetry this spring. She lives in Pittsburg, KS with her husband and two dogs. Her work has previously appeared on line and in Silver Birch Press and at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance and Solidarity.
Guest Editor Annette Hope Billings is an award-winning author and actress whose dynamic style of reciting has led fans to dub her “Maya of the Midwest!” Her first book of poetry, A Net Full of Hope (2015), garnered the 2015 ARTSConnect ARTY Award in Literature in Topeka, Kansas. Descants for a Daughter followed in 2016 and serves as a collection of affirmations from a parent’s heart. Billings most recent publication is Just Shy of Stars (Spartan Press, 2018). Her poetry and short stories also appears in the following anthologies: Gimme Your Lunch Money: Heartland Poets Respond to Bullying (2016), Twisting Topeka (2016), Our Last Walk: Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering Our Pets (2016), and Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Balkans Press, 2017) and Revealed (2017). Billings’ poetry can also be found in both online and print publications including Inscape/Washburn University, Coal City Press, Microburst and Konza Magazine.