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

Image of a sunflower head

Translation: to and back

HALYNA KRUK
hand-picked grains they are, without any defect, / as once we were, poised, full of love // in the face of death, I am saying to you: / love me as if there will never be enough light / for us to find each other in this world // love me as long as we believe / that death turns a blind eye to us.

many empty bottles

June 2024 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors

KATE GASKIN
We were at a long table, candles flickering in the breeze, / outside on the deck that overlooks the bay, which was black / and tinseled where moonlight fell on the wrinkled silk / of reflected stars shivering with the water.

Messy desk in an office

May 2024 Poetry Feature: Pissed-Off Ars Poetica Sonnet Crown

REBECCA FOUST
Fuck you, if I want to put a bomb in my poem / I’ll put a bomb there, & in the first line. / Granted, I might want a nice reverse neutron bomb / that kills only buildings while sparing our genome / but—unglue the whole status-quo thing, / the canon can-or-can’t do?