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Poetry Magnum Opus

Eight and Seventy-eight


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With a crank, a bucket and elbow grease

I hauled up well-water to fill the wash tub

so she could scrub clothes on a corrugated board.


He hammered away to repair the two clothes lines,

swearing all the time in the sweltering sun.


When almost all the clean clothes were pinned

to the lines, the whole contraption fell, dumping

linen and shirts into the red old clay of Georgia.


He threw his hammer at nothing as she slowly

gathered the now gritty garments for re-washing.


Three times I filled the tub, and three times

she washed, as he hammered and cursed

the luck of a scrabble share-cropper.


At the dinner table, fuming, he swept his glass

of iced tea to the floor. She slowly picked

up the pieces and returned with a fresh glass.





Today, the early slanting sun lit up the turning dogwoods, subtle and bright colors changing with every angle; it became Christmas in September with red berries galore bringing swarms of grackles to celebrate. What a gift!

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I like the parallel memories this stirs for me: your contrast of Sunday, today, works well with the title and exudes an air that is a celebration of life.

Ah! What a lovely phrase is "elbow grease".... "Monday, Monday, always washday," my mother said.... Each day was designated to labour intensive chores; that brought with them the sights, the sounds and smells, instilled in a small child, like letters through a stick of rock; coated with the frustrations of adults cowed by a time long past.... Sunday, there was always an aura of quietude and a family meal.

Thanks for sharing. Geoff.

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So funny that when young I puzzled for a long time about the meaning of 'elbow grease'. When my grandmother explained, I still pondered the reason for the saying. Yes, in my generation the difference in Sunday and Monday was stark for everyone. I think maybe the 'day of rest' was great wisdom (of course) from God. Strange that I miss drawing water from a well--a tactile reward for certain. Thanks for making me think, Geoff.

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