Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer. Our current guest editor is Micki Blenkush.

Some of us believe that poems most inhabit the gaps between the words on the page.  In this poem, Patrick Cabello Hansel sketches images of a family’s grief, leaving canvas for readers to take up the paint of imagination that allows for this girl to be animated in our minds.  Doing so, we sense how it might be to inhabit her body, to feel those small pebbles kicking up on one day in her life.

Micki Blenkush

Girl Walking Backwards
Patrick Cabello Hansel

after David Constantine
for Vivian

Girl walking backwards to her cousin’s grave,
I see you from the mirror of my fleeing car.
You raise your hand—why?—not a wave, no one bidden.
Copper over sunshine over heat, your skin
can barely contain you. I watch
you falter on the wet spring grass.  The friends
have left and the mother, sober, clings
to the mouth of the earth that has swallowed
her gunshot, self-inflicted, youngest daughter’s
flesh.  I have said the words.  I cannot take
back the time.  I see you walking backwards
on the road, your dress a thin bandage, 
your feet kicking up pebbles small enough to hurt.
Girl falling backwards to her cousin’s name.


Patrick Cabello Hansel is the author of the poetry collections The Devouring Land (Main Street Rag Publishing) and Quitting Time (forthcoming in February 2021 from Atmosphere Press).  He has published poems and prose in over 65 journals, including subprimal, Ilanot Review, Ash & Bones and Lunch Ticket. His novella Searching was serialized in 33 issues of The Alley News.  He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received awards from the Loft Literary Center and the MN State Arts Board.  He is the editor of The Phoenix of Phillips literary magazine, a new journal for and by the people of the most diverse neighborhood in Minneapolis.  

“Girl Walking Backwards” is from Patrick Cabell Hansel’s book, The Devouring Land, published by Main Street Rag.  It is reprinted here with permission of the author.