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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015

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Anita Virgil
Forest, Virginia, USA


Hands

despite my hands
turned old
another spring
my love grows
lush as grass

I learned from kitchens. Creaming cold butter and sugar endlessly to lemon color on summer mornings. Grateful for the little breeze that meanders through the back screened door. Sweating, I grate pieces of fresh cocoanut. Small-talk the while and the nearby smell of dark Annie's hands: cooking grease lingering. And patience. Always that—and kindness with a child.

Other days, down we go to the cool basement. Wet clothes soak in the laundry tub. The DUBL HANDI washboard stands in the gray water, wooden legs softening . . . USE EITHER SIDE ACCORDING TO FABRIC it says. She hums, balances the cake of harsh yellow soap on the small window ledge. Then the warmth from her iron, back and forth. Stacks of rough-dried clothes off the line wait for her touch. Once in a while, advice on what part to press first, or how to skirt corners.

Upstairs, at evening, a raise to four dollars a week from three, an issue. Resigned, peeling off her worn apron as usual, the dishes done and put away, floor mopped, she takes home a few leftovers from our supper—and the 'gift' of discarded clothes. It is all. For now.

how many times
these rituals
putting away the clean
remembering the dirty
my whole life


Editor's Note: First published in Skylark 2:2 (Winter 2014)

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