Robyn Anspach


Robyn Anspach has an MFA from University of Michigan. She currently works as a data analyst at Google.

What Barren Means

The way fields look when we walk past them,
dried tangles of hair. We leave our heads
bare and wind comes in like breath
off the desiccated fields. The husks
of cornstalks grasp pointlessly at sky.
We do not stop to touch them. We are going
somewhere, which is to say elsewhere,
because we are just walking the way
we do when the gray sets in, walking
down any of the roads that lead from town
to empty fields, with heads bare and heat
twining like cigarette smoke around us. Another
neighbor is pregnant. We saw her laying her right
hand on her belly the way pregnant women do.
Outside cornstalks bob their heads like bodies
propped up on stakes. Another harvest is over.

This poem is part of a much larger work on the Samson and Delilah story. I'm interested in the Jewish tradition of midrash, which aims to find the gaps between bible stories, to fill them in and understand them. Samson's mother—she's unnamed in the bible and very little is said about her aside from that she is barren—seems like one of these gaps.