Diane Hueter

Pine Row Issue No. 5 Summer 2022 - Featured Poet

Nana's Ghost Keeps the Past in the Past


Nana kept one blurry portrait on the bedroom wall,

in a corner between window and closet. Her father,

with his wooly mustache and dark bowler hat,

held a cigar between thumb and finger, a mug of beer

in his other fist. He stood before a pile of dark dirty snow.

Smoke from a chimney the only detail so clear

I always imagined I smelled it

Sometime later, he took them all down to the city,

those years of Fridays

when he spent everything he earned,

on tobacco and beer.

Someone told me—Uncle Jack?—

he belt-whipped his daughters

if they shamed him coming home after dark.


If Nana had another photo, cracked and sepia

colored, of her husband, maybe from their wedding

day, I never saw it. How old was I when I first

heard of him? When did someone solve for me,

using a sharp pencil on the edge of The Seattle Times,

the puzzle of surnames, the relationships of blood?

A fall from stringing wire on telephone poles out by Northgate,

broke Nana’s first husband, took him all of a sudden —

left four children to feed and one still unborn in her belly—

Nana, when you were young? always got us hushed.

They were all so sure she would burst

remembering such sorrow, break like a reed,

so she never had a chance to say.

Interview with Diane Hueter

by Pine Row Editorial Board

How did you get started as a poet? What inspires you to write?

I began writing poetry in high school and had a few poems published when I was fairly young. One poem appeared in a journal along with a poem by William Stafford, a poet I had long admired and I was very excited by that companionship.

I grew up in the NW, now I live in Texas, and I've been here for years. Yet, I've always struggled to write from a Texas perspective.

I write about my family and that always takes me to my memories of home.

Diane Hueter is a Seattle native now living in Lubbock, Texas-- a place with very blue skies and very little rain. Her poetry has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, BlueLine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. Her book After the Tornado (2013) was published by Stephen F. Austin Press.