sunday bear: julia alvarez

“Cornellia” by Barbara Whisnant (German distressed mohair, antique baby dress, 1989)



Woman’s Work
by Julia Alvarez

for Judy Yarnall

Who says a woman’s work isn’t high art?
She challenged as she scrubbed the bathroom tiles.
Keep house as if the address were your heart.

We cleaned the whole upstairs before we started
downstairs. I sighed, hearing my friends outside.
Doing her woman’s work was a hard art

to practice when the summer sun would bar
the floor I swept till she was satisfied.
She kept me prisoner in her housebound heart.

She shined the tines of forks, the wheels of carts,
cut lacy lattices for all her pies.
Her woman’s work was nothing less than art.

And I, her masterpiece since I was smart,
was primed, praised, polished, scolded, and advised
to keep a house much better than my heart.

I did not want to be her counterpart!
I struck out . . . but became my mother’s child:
a woman working at home on her art,
housekeeping paper as if it were her heart.

~ from She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited and introduced by Caroline Kennedy (Hyperion, 2011).


♥  Today’s Sunday Bear Hug is brought to you by Mr. Cornelius, who is eating three extra cream scones today in honor of mothers everywhere, past and present. Have a beautiful Mother’s Day, everyone!



Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.