Christine Stewart-Nuñez


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Pay attention, she says, to relationships—
how the hands convey meaning in degrees
of proximity to the body
. With my index
finger, I point to my chin, tip touching
a dimple I feel but no one sees, and touch
the rest of my fingers. to sign miss her,
I twist my wrist and point to an empty
place, as if the daughter I never birthed
had been there, swaddled, smelling delicate.
If I intend disappointed, I hold my hand
in position and think about an attempt
to make papier-maché solar system
with my son who has no focus for crafts
or spoken words. How quickly one sign slides
into another
, a student says. Everyone nods.
To signify bitter, my brain need only to dwell
in this hollow, thin-skinned space, my hand
to tighten into a fist.

* * *


Poet and memoirist Christine Stewart-Nuñez is the author of Untrussed (University of New Mexico Press 2016), Bluewords Greening (Terrapin Books 2016), Keeping Them Alive (WordTech Editions 2010), and Postcard on Parchment (ABZ Press 2008). Her awards for creative nonfiction include "An Archeology of Secrets," which was a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2012. She is an Associate Professor in the English Department at South Dakota State University. Find her work at