Here, she said, put this on your head. She handed me a hat. you 'bout as white as your dad, and you gone stay like that. Aunt Sugar rolled her nylons down around each bony ankle, and I rolled down my white knee socks letting my thin legs dangle, circling them just above water and silver backs of minnows flitting here then there between the sun spots and the shadows. This is how you hold the pole to cast the line out straight. Now put that worm on your hook, throw it out and wait. She sat spitting tobacco juice into a coffee cup. Hunkered down when she felt the bite, jerked the pole straight up reeling and tugging hard at the fish that wriggled and tried to fight back. A flounder, she said, and you can tell 'cause one of its sides is black. The other is white, she said. It landed with a thump. I stood there watching that fish flip-flop, switch sides with every jump.
Domestic Work, 1937
- by Natasha Trethewey16
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.
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