Sarah Gridley

Winner of the The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award in 2019

HOUSEWORK


A deer that falls
no longer scatters. A bee

is filling
in the ribs. The

leaves?
Become the apron's detail work.

Her eyesight
changes in the woods.

 

line

Paula Bohince on Sarah Gridley

"Housework" is a deceptively quiet and deeply expansive poem that changes with each re-reading, becoming even more evocative and startling in its procession.  The spare woods of it (but not empty, not at all) delight and unsettle.  The poem becomes a web, an instrument for the reader's imaginative play, and its provocative associative leaps invite this.  I welcomed living a while in its strange world. 

The "no longer" in the first couplet is mysterious and poignant, subtly signaling some unknown adjustment, but why, and why now?  The bee doing its work of "filling/in" with what and for what cause remains unspoken.  The restraint feels courageous and Dickinsonian.  I love the "apron's detail work," the domestic briefly alighting, changing the atmosphere, tilting it toward wildness even as the apron seems like it should be an image of sanity.  The final couplet introducing the figure of "her" and her "eyesight," which "changes in the woods," is endlessly captivating, this notion of the "her" becoming weirder, perhaps a truer self, in this nature.

"Housework has the sureness and gravity of a true vision.  Its timing and images echo into the air long after it has finished.  There is the world of the poem and the unseen world within and beyond it.  It resists being known completely.  "Housework" is a marvel, a fantastical keyhole of a poem.

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