Peninsula Poetry: Hanne Gault

Hanne Gault was born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark. She came to the United States in 1960, married Sidney Gault and raised three children in Glencoe, Illinois, and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In Illinois, she worked first as a nurse and then as a teacher. 

She began writing poetry in 1984 and won a prize in the Jo-Anne Hirshfield Poetry Competition in Chicago. When she moved to Door County in 1997, she took a class at The Clearing with Barbara Larsen and has been writing poetry ever since in the company of the Wallace Group. 

She was nominated for a Pushcart in 2010 and published her first book, You Are From Where, in 2012. As a poet, she is known for her acerbic wit and wisdom.

Learning to Sew

The 7th. grade
Home Economics 
class was sewing aprons
for Mother’s Day.

Some aprons
had fine stitching
and embroidered designs,
Not mine.

Entangled in the intricacy 
of the sewing machine
I had no time for fancy 
designs or lettering.

The laborious chug chug
of my machine caught
Miss P’s ear, she stood 
and yelled my name

(she dealt mainly
in the higher octaves)
so loud that her false teeth 
almost flew out.

She caught them
in time with a schlurp
as the sewing machine
ran over my finger.

It took off on its own
the stitches went crazy
threads in a bundled mess
I wailed, in pain.

The apron died in my
 mother’s rag bag.
 I heard her tell the neighbor
 that I was pretty good at        


She was one of us
but not really 
she wore a fur coat         
it was 1944 and 
nobody had a fur coat
mother made 
father’s pants into 
dresses so we would 
have clothes to wear 

She had big eyes 
with dark shadows
which made her seem
exotic to the rest of us

She read Diderot 
and Proust in her
spare time while
we struggled with
basic anatomy

I could not even
remember her name
until I saw it in the obits
she was well known
in certain circles

When someone makes
an impression on you
you search your mind 
for what was it exactly
she left behind

I am thinking mink