18 April 2024: Invisible Work

Invisible Work

~ by Kwoya Fagin Maples

or teachers,  guides whose gestures      I recall better than names
        so much I’ve been taught I have yet to know 

but ode        to every stitch of braid past my mother’s fingertips 
sewing countless
                                buttons for every day my grandmother
cooked and cleaned house twice 

& Sis. Eugenia Foster 
who kept my brother and I in summer who taught me 
          steeping and drinking tea  & how  I could call for someone 
but not cry   when they passed over 

the wind chimes too     all their constant worry with wind 

even after her stroke     my grandmother Dorothy rose on cold nights                    
pulled a heavy leg down the hall                     
to cover me with a quilt 
her own grandmother quilted 

         on his days off       my only father     
lacquered my found rocks
        praised my keen eye
                      wasn’t he urging me to notice? 

I see now,       
all this gracious    lack of accounting & maybe too
how tonight in terrific storm   when the wind picked up and pitched
warning     this primal body took off running 

         homing through our dark house
towards the beds where my children sleep 

Copyright © 2024 by Kwoya Maples. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 7, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets 


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