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Domestic Work 1937

 All week she's cleaned
someone else's house,
stared down her own face
in the shine of copper--
bottomed pots, polished
wood, toilets she'd pull
the lid to--that look saying

Let's make a change, girl.
But Sunday mornings are hers-- church clothes starched and hanging, a record spinning on the console, the whole house dancing.
She raises the shades, washes the rooms in light, buckets of water, Octagon soap.
Cleanliness is next to godliness .
.
.
Windows and doors flung wide, curtains two-stepping forward and back, neck bones bumping in the pot, a choir of clothes clapping on the line.
Nearer my God to Thee .
.
.
She beats time on the rugs, blows dust from the broom like dandelion spores, each one a wish for something better.

by Natasha Trethewey
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