Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
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Issue 103, Jan – Mar 2017
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
Shuly Cawood

followed by Q&A


Your hands pop open the hood of the car,
drain the oil, twist cap shut, stop the leak. 

Your hands pump the colander and wash 
shaking leaves clean.

Your hands cut the sunflowers, brown and yellow heads 
already drooping from the long drive you must make 
to see me through this terrible heat,
the kind that causes rashes, that beats
down on back doors. Your hands

used to know how to take off things
in the late afternoons, when we shoved
our books aside and slept on deadlines,
when I thought the world was made for straps
and sundresses without destinations.

Your hands used to know how to stop me from going.
They used to tell me a story. Now, they break up
a sentence into small pieces. They clear clutter.

They’re strong enough to pull someone from a burning car,
just not your car, just not me.

Shuly Cawood has an MFA from Queens University, and her memoir, The Going and Goodbye, will be published by Platypus Press in 2017. Her creative writing has been published in places such as The RumpusZone 3Fiction SoutheastFull Grown People, and The Louisville Review. Her most recent writing award was the 2014 Betty Gabehart Prize. You can read more about her work at

Contributor Note: 
I'm fortunate to be part of a monthly poetry prompt group. This poem came from a prompt that was to "write a poem that focuses on metonymy." I started off with that intention but clearly ended up someplace else—which is fine. The prompts are meant to just to get us moving somewhere on the page so we can go wherever we need to be. My better poems are always the ones that take me someplace surprising. 

1. If you could spend a day doing anything (besides writing), what would you do?
I would walk. One of my favorite walks is through Julian Price Park in North Carolina. It's a wonderful place of creeks, mountains, fields, and woods. Anytime I can be outside (and out of my head) and see vistas that are expansive, I am reminded there are much bigger and more important things in the world than myself. 

2. Where is your favorite place to write? 
I love writing at coffee shops because I like the noise and the company and the warmth of these kinds of places. Writing is such a solitary act, but when I can be around other people yet still focus on my work, it feels like a perfect balance.

3. You’ve been informed you will be reincarnated as an animal and you can choose, so what animal will you choose? 
A bird so I can fly as far and as high as I please, and so I don't have to carry things except the occasional twig or worm.