Do Not Touch by Sandra Ann Winters
“Sandra Ann Winters’ ‘Our Irish Garden’ is a delicious procession of rhyming couplets using an extended garden metaphor. . .”
—Leslie McGrath, judge of the 2019 NY Yeats Society Poetry Prize
Do Not Touch is Sandra Ann Winters’ second full-length book of poetry, in which Section I weaves the themes of sexuality, nature, and everydayness.
In “Anthurium,” her carefully constructed lines transform an inanimate flower into a sensuous symbol: “moist pink spathes inflorescence in folds, flaring out…the enchantress, painted tongue, poisonous beauty, come here.” Winters often explores intimacy in terms of unusual experiences expressed in language that is infused with imagery: “Nefertiti’s red-painted toes;” “she slips into a Koi pond, her breasts brush against the lily pads, dragonflies buzz.”
Intrigue begins in the title poem “Do Not Touch,” alluding to a museum sign posted above priceless artifacts. But her male companion touches everything in the museum, “You stroked the marble effigy of Margaret Butler, caressed her closed eyes, her cheeks her hair.” The drama of the section opens to “and then you touched me.”
Section II explores tender insights into Winters’ family history and non-sentimental stories of family loss. Her poems are skillfully crafted, forthright and grounded in clarity, eschewing gimmickry and flamboyance. Winters has a keen eye for the natural landscape and everything in it, imbuing her poems with vivid imagery. In “Under the Moon” (nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize), “My daddy built the out-of-house for us, whitewashed the walls, cut a star in the door…When I pee to the glinting stars’ tune, I know my daddy was the man-in-the-moon.”
Do Not Touch is Sandra Ann Winters’ second book of poems from Salmon Poetry. Her previous publications were The Place Where I Left You (Salmon Poetry) and a chapbook Calving Under the Moon (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including the Cork Literary Review, Southword, the North Carolina Literary Review, Flying South, Even the Daybreak: 35 years of Salmon Poetry, The Deep Heart’s Core: Irish Poets Revisit a Touchstone Poem, and others. She is the winner of the 2011 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition, and a Pushcart nominee twice. Her poems have received a variety of awards and recognition, including most recently commendation by the 2019 Yeats Poetry Prize (W. B. Yeats Society of NY). She was a professor of Irish and English literature for thirty years at Guilford College in Greensboro.