A Poet in the House
Cathy SongEmily’s job was to think.
She was the only one of us
who had that to do.
- Lavinia Dickinson
Seemingly small her work,
minute to the point of invisibility –
she vanished daily into paper, famished,
hungry for her next encounter –
but she opened with a string of humble
necessary as the humble work
of bringing well to water, roast to knife, cake to frost,
the course, loud, grunting labor of the rest of us
who complained not at all
for the noises she heard
we deemed divine, if
claustrophobic and esoteric –
and contented ourselves to the apparent,
the menial, set our heads
to the task of daily maintenance,
the simple order at the kitchen table,
while she struggled with a different thing –
the pressure seized upon her mind –
we could ourselves not bear such strain
and, in gratitude, heaved the bucket,
squeezed the rag, breathed the sweet,
homely odor of soap.
Lifting dirt from the floor
we could hear her thinking.
Cathy Song, in Sweeping Beauty: contemporary women poets do housework
, ed by Pamela Gemin, Univ of Iowa Prss, 2005If anyone can figure out why the poet wrote the following lines in just so fashion, please let me know:but she opened with a string of humble
necessary as the humble workDon’t forget: CLL’s Women Writers Reading Series begins Jan. 18th at Ravenna 3rd Place Books, 6 pm. Sign up with Esther