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Dishwater

April 23, 2012

After spending yesterday throwing things out and putting the rest of the things back where they belong–a job that never makes me feel I’m doing anything that will last–it’s comforting to see that what lasts longest is the moment of looking.

Dishwater

Slap of the screen door, flat knock
of my grandmother’s boxy black shoes
on the wooden stoop, the hush and sweep
of her knob-kneed, cotton-aproned stride
out to the edge and then, toed in
with a furious twist and heave,
a bridge that leaps from her hot red hands
and hangs there shining for fifty years
over the mystified chickens,
over the swaying nettles, the ragweed,
the clay slope down to the creek,
over the redwing blackbirds in the tops
of the willows, a glorious rainbow
with an empty dishpan swinging at one end.

And it’s good, especially on a Monday morning, to be reminded that how you see something matters–sometimes the sun shows you the rainbow, and other times you’ve got to move yourself to open the curtains first.

Tonight I am playing the Mozart Requiem, as I have for the past four Monday nights since March 26, and the sound of it weighs on me heavier each week. But this poem shouts “finish flinging that dirty water out of the dishpan you’ve been using.”

Does it speak to you, too?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2012 11:55 am

    Leave room for the rainbow.

    • April 24, 2012 8:37 am

      I think the poem is saying it’s often there, but we’re not looking for it, so we don’t see it.

  2. April 23, 2012 12:05 pm

    The first thing I thought of while reading this was the Grandma from the Misty of Chincoteague series by Marguerite Henry.

  3. April 23, 2012 12:29 pm

    And all I can think is pitch it all out!

  4. April 23, 2012 2:05 pm

    “Pitch it all out…” Well, there are babies and there is bathwater, and the sorting out process is painful. The temptation to save a particularly murky bit because there just might be a baby bobbing around in the flotsam is strong.

    • April 24, 2012 8:38 am

      Very strong. But we are making progress.

    • April 25, 2012 4:16 pm

      The baby will float long enough for you to rescue it 😀

      • April 25, 2012 4:48 pm

        I think you’re right, since my “baby” is 6’2″ now.

  5. April 29, 2012 3:25 pm

    Oh, Ted Kooser, how I love you and your poetry.

    • April 30, 2012 7:32 am

      He’s so good at taking the ordinary and making us see the extraordinary in it.

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