Handwork

By TINA CANE

Lucid dreaming is not a job     but a steady occupation

 

I do not have a big dream     they are only little dreams 

                               and right now I cannot think of one

 

My father read the paper      while my mother scrubbed the floor

I pay a woman $100 a week to help me keep my house clean

 

I forget to rinse the rice     because I am rushing

I wipe the counter     and wipe the counter again

 

My son makes a mountain of suds in his hair

I rinse behind his ears

 

Women balance large bundles of sticks on their heads

 

I forget to rinse the rice    because I am rushing

I wipe the counter     and wipe the counter again

 

For ten years I fed my children from my body

Kissed their fists to custom-make them milk     to fight the germs

I did this without realizing     I did it all the same

 

I wipe the counter     and wipe the counter again

If I had to live under a bridge     my children would go with me

 

When my daughter asks me to brush her hair 

I use fragrant oil     so that in a perfumed dream

she will remember me    with steady hands

 

hands that wipe the counter     that sometimes rinse the rice

 

Tina Cane serves as the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island and is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI. Her poems and translations have appeared in numerous publications, including The Literary Review, Two Serious Ladies, Tupelo Quarterly, jubilat, and The Common. She also co-produces the podcast Poetry Dose. Cane is the author of The Fifth Thought; Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante, poems with art by Esther Solondz; Once More with Feeling; and Body of Work, forthcoming in 2019 from Veliz Books.

[Purchase Issue 16 here.]

Handwork

Related Posts

Growing up

November 2020 Poetry Feature: David Lehman

DAVID LEHMAN
Science explained everything, / the workings of windshield wipers, for example: / “The darkness causes the rain / and comes from the rain, which goes up / to the sky and falls down again / on the windshield and the windows.

Pine tree at sunset

July on South St. (AEAE)

NICK MAIONE
I open the doors and windows and shut off the lights./ For a while I play tunes on the fiddle / shirtless in my dark house. I love doing this. / For the first time all day I am not at home. / For the first time since the last time / my body is the same size as my flesh.

Beach at dawn

Claudia Prado: Poems from THE BELLY OF THE WHALE

CLAUDIA PRADO
with one strong arm she turns the steering wheel / and hangs the other out the Ford’s window / ashing a cigarette that could set fire to the whole earth / two women crossing a plain changed / by that slant afternoon light / forget the child in the backseat...