Thursday, October 1, 2015, at 7:00 pm, poets Teresa Carson and Dawn Potter will kick off the ninth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
Teresa Carson holds an MFA in Poetry and an MFA in Theatre, both from Sarah Lawrence College. She is associate publisher at CavanKerry Press and the assistant director of the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. She is the author of three collections of poetry—Elegy for the Floater (CavanKerry Press 2008), My Crooked House (CavanKerry Press 2014), and The Congress of Human Oddities (Deerbrook Editions 2015).
Dawn Potter directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching, held each summer at Robert Frost’s home in Franconia, New Hampshire. She is the author or editor of seven books of prose and poetry, most recently The Conversation: Learning to Be a Poet. Her most recent poetry collection, Same Old Story, was a nominee for the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry, and her memoir, Tracing Paradise: Two Years in Harmony with John Milton, won the 2010 Maine Literary Award in Nonfiction. Dawn has received grants and fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Writer’s Center, and the Maine Arts Commission. New poems and essays have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, the Sewanee Review, the Threepenny Review, and many other journals in the United States and abroad.
In addition to writing, editing, and teaching, Dawn sings and plays fiddle with the band Doughty Hill. For more about Dawn and her work, visit her blog.
JUNE 29, 1863 / Teresa Carson
Across the state of Ohio,
across the counties of Ashtabula, Pickaway, Drake, Cuyahoga, and Stark,
across the towns of Pigeon Run, Winesburg, Rome, and Paradise,
women wash clothes on Mondays.
The women of Ohio believe the Creator of all things is a Being of system and order
and therefore believe each hour must
be systematically employed;
they must cultivate regulated habits in regard to household chores.
The women believe these habits will bring forth fruits of good or ill,
not only through earthly generations but through everlasting ages.
Thus, on Mondays, the women of Ohio wash clothes—
a task that leaves no time to cook benevolent provisions so on Sundays they bake hams, which
can be eaten cold next day.
Their men have gotten used to this.
Washday begins at dawn when women tote buckets from rivers and wells.
Then hours and hours of scrub/rinse/wring/dip/hang.
As evening falls, their lye-cracked hands sprinkle and roll the clothes
for ironing on Tuesday.
Their mothers trained them how to wash and how to hang a proper line—
whites in sun, colors turned wrong side out, sheets hiding petticoats—
and they, who do not eat the bread of idleness,
will train their daughters in these same domestic rules
because the women of Ohio know
evil results from disorder.
THE HUSBANDS / Dawn Potter
Their work boots were filmed with grease,
and their faces were weary.
They never showed up till the fourth inning.
Knees spread, they let themselves rest
on chairs beside the gravel-pocked ball field;
and when the women hollered, “Good eye, honey!”
at a tearful, trembling batter,
the men smiled like gentle but distracted strangers.
In their houses, a drawer slammed,
a kettle boiled, a hound twitched on the mat.
and the husbands pined for a secret world.
One drove six hours in dense fog
to a motel in Mississauga
instead of sitting down to supper.
Another stayed up till dawn
picking out “Night of the Johnstown Flood”
on his mother-in-law’s old guitar.
They fumbled with their sadness,
but nothing changed.
Women still clustered along the ball field
sharing packs of licorice, cat-calling the ump,
cheering at bloop singles and horrible throws to first.
The women behaved as if they had front-row tickets
to something magnificent and vital,
but the husbands couldn’t see, couldn’t quite see.
They raised their eyes toward the blackening sky
where swallows wheeled among the mosquitoes.
A child hacked at a pitch,
and the men’s thoughts clung to emptiness.
No one cried, “Cross out this life
that batters you down, and down, and down!”
Like chairs left in the rain for twenty years,
Then one day their knees snapped
and they toppled into the flood.