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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Servants by Faith Shearin



In college I read about Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton
and I thought of their great minds and their long dresses
and their gilded friendships which involved tea
in the library or on the lawn. I thought of the places
they traveled and the weight of their trunks
and all the ways their marriages did or did not
please them. I thought of the dogs that followed
at their heels and the rooms and gardens they
decorated and the beaches where they
carried umbrellas. But I never once thought of
their servants. I didn’t think of the cook who
woke up to make the fires of morning or the maids
who stood over a pot of hot soap, stirring the day.
I did not think of how someone dressed them
and scrubbed their floors, how someone
brought their dinner on a tray. It was years before
I knew they had them at all: invisible, unremembered,
people who gave their lives to drudgery. Now I
can barely write or finish a book for all the housework
and errands, now I think of them: knocking dust
from the curtains, carrying the rugs outside
each spring so they could beat them with a broom.

"Servants" by Faith Shearin from Telling the Bees

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