Bette Lynch Husted

Bette Lynch Husted lives and writes in Eastern Oregon. Her first collection of memoir essays, Above the Clearwater: Living on Stolen Land (OSU Press 2004) was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; her second collection, Lessons from the Borderlands (Plainview Press) followed in 2012. At This Distance: Poems (Wordcraft of Oregon 2010) reflects the land she crosses monthly to reach the Side Porch Poets, a Portland-based workshop group. She chairs the Pendleton Center for the Arts First Draft Writers’ Series, welcoming Northwest writers to Eastern Oregon.



Christ came to me,

his bride

in His holy darkness     my narrow cot

rising with this tide

to float beyond the transom, past the stars—


Tonight’s moon is a torn wafer.

Shadows gather

below my window,

a sudden wind trembling the cottonwoods.

Somewhere a floorboard creaks.


I did not mean to kill the boy.

I taped his mouth closed only

to let the lye soap burn away

that guttural




Now, crucifix corpus

pressed between my breasts—

rosary beads

turning like his eyes—

dark, wet, wild—

I know


He will not come again.

Moonlight at the Indian Boarding School

Listen to Bette talk about her work