Every few weeks I feature a poem with a work-related theme, either one I wrote or that I curated from other sources.
Commentary--Maggie Anderson's "Sonnet for Her Labor" has stuck with me since I first read it years ago in the anthology For a Living, edited by Nicholas Coles and Peter Oresick (1995). For me, the sonnet speaks to the poignant need for acknowledging those who make our lives better. While I don't doubt Uncle Ed and Uncle Craig appreciated Aunt Nita's endless work, they apparently took it for granted. They never said thank you. BTW: Galluses are suspenders.
Sonnet for Her Labor
by Maggie Anderson
My Aunt Nita's kitchen was immaculate and dark,
and she was always bending to the sink
below the window where the shadows off the bulk
of Laurel Mountain rose up to the brink
of all the sky she saw from there. She clattered
pots on countertops wiped clean of coal dust,
fixed three meals a day, fried meat, mixed batter
for buckwheat cakes, hauled water, in what seemed lust
for labor. One March evening, after cleaning,
she lay down to rest and died. I can see Uncle Ed,
his fingers twined at this plate for the blessing;
my uncle Craig leaning back, silent in red
galluses. No one said a word to her. All that food
and cleanliness. No one ever told her it was good.