All That She Carried – Annette Kalandros

She carried the weight of being told

Young girls didn’t ride the school bus into Charleston.

The wages of sin rode in the school bus

When left unsupervised that long with boys

And their untamed hands pushed and held

Girls under the Devil’s sway.

Seventh grade was good enough

For a girl of the mountains anyway.

She needed to be hired out to a family for pay.

It was time to learn the ways of mountain women,

Time to stop all this wanting of books and play.


She carried the weight of escaping the mountain,

Leaving her mother and family to struggle.

She had the wonder of electric run to the house,

Bought an electrified ice box for her mother too

With the wealth she earned in the city.

Yet she could not escape the weight of escape.


That was the start, the birth of her dream–

Held so briefly and coddled and nursed

Until her dream suffered the inexplicable–

A sudden death in a crib.


She carried the weight of loss–

of wealth held a moment then lost,

of love and success lost,

Every dream she had when young lost to her.


Then she carried all the things she had to do:

Losing the self she had been

To do the things she had to do.

A forced marriage, enduring beatings

From a man obsessed to keep a house.

The selling of body to feed her last child—

It’s what women do with nothing left.


For all that she carried tasted

of bitterness and iron

of beer and blood

and a life lived in the soil

of brokenness

that buried her.


Annette Kalandros, a retired teacher, residing in Houston, TX with two French Bulldogs, writes to make sense of things—life, the world, the inner workings of her own mind and soul.  In addition, she had been active in the LGBTQ community since was four years old and marched her Ken doll with all his little Ken accouterments to the big metal trash can in the yard. Her two Barbie dolls lived happily ever after. Her work has been included in the anthology, As The World Burns.

You can read more of her write at


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