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Martin Willitts Jr.

The Workweek Never Ends

          1. Monday, Peach Canning

The mason jars pregnant with sliced peaches
open their mouths
newborns seeking nipple-milk.

Steam from the double-boiler is yellow.
A Chinese junket
in a sea of koi.

It is as hot as a smoke house for ham,
or the inside of a moonshine still
about to smashed by revenuers.

          2. Tuesday, Delivery Day

Deliver us from this heat,
make us lie down on cool sheets of shade,
pour us a spigot of lemonade showers.

Here comes the milkman
clinking bottles
leaving five on the doorstep like orphans.

The iceman brings a block of ice
carrying it between metal tongs.
I fan myself with a hymnal to coax away heat.

          3. Wednesday, Pig Slop Day

I toss leavings: turnip tops;
wilted broccoli heads turned
unsightly grey hairs; onion skins

reminding me of loose papers
needing something important to say;
orange rind like surfaces of the sun;

bacon grease, for flavor, although
I doubt the pigs are more discerning
than my husband,

snorting, runting,
at his trough, feed pieces flailing--
I feel I need a raincoat when he feeds.

          4. Thursday, Laundry Day

Clothes churn in a whirlpool
grinding 20 Mule Team into the fabric,
into the folds of my palms.

The wash pulls through the wringer
like pulling a mule the wrong way
when it refuses to budge without carrots.

Underwear flattens into retribution of cleanliness,
water gushing streams of tears
the size of pearl onions.

The washboard is rough as a preacher
reminding you of sins
you never committed.

When I am done, I will have put an end
to filth until my husband plows
the whole week of work into shame.

          5. Friday, Attic Cleaning

Our daguerreotype lives are on sabbatical,
its aperture allowing deposits of light
to filter on what needs illuminating.

We can close the shutters, but light still enters
as a wedding dress, exposing
images on a silver-mirrored surface.

A failed marriage is like bread:
if you open the convex cover too soon
it will warp into itself.

A marriage can be loaves still warm
smelling of baking powder & lilac scents
behind the ears, or a sachet of potpourri--

Like the process of developing film,
it takes patience and time to develop.
with successful exposure to the right elements.

It can be like tintype: a positive appearing
negative on opaque metal plates; or
Victorian shadow-drawings of outward appearances.

When I open the cedar chest in the attic
to find my veil, my vows reoccur,
a force of lightning to be reckoned with.

          6. Saturday, Baking

Mixing batter and baking cornbread
in an open-hearth Dutch oven, is a sharing
between mother and daughter, old as wooden spoons.

The ingredients are as important as conversation,
passing of quilts of wisdom, gossip as
spools of black thread, our talk is a treadle machine

stitching secrets into the fabric, a huddle of shoulders,
measuring cups of shifted flour on wooden blocks,
a pinch of salt to make things rise like eyebrows.

If there is anything more sacred, it’s tomorrow,
a thing in a pan, words churning.
Like butter in a churn, lies are buttermilk we mix in--

bacon dripping on a skillet, pouring the batter
as it sizzles like a first kiss, the cracked eggs
opened in sworn confidence.

I glow with recalling my own stolen kiss
from the freckled haired boy whose arm
caught in a combine. He never could hug me after that.

It is something I never confessed; not even in dreams.
So I married the next best thing
which turned out not so bad when I’m not looking.

          7. Sunday, A Day of Reflection

These heirloom seeds, passed through generations,
are trusted more than a promise. If planted
they will produce things for centuries.

If we grow together in a spiritual manner
talking in a language of understanding and trust
in things we cannot see,

then we can merge together like at a Meeting House,
where nothing is excluded, all is welcomed.
The errant husband can return to the fold;

the desperate wife can seek shelter
in a stormy marriage; children can gather
like chicks; seeds will reach their natural conclusion.

I try to take each teachable moment
like a mare takes to a saddle, although
I am not always sure I understand the message.

©2011 by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin Willitts Jr.'s recent poems appeared in Naugatuck River Review, MiPOesias,, Muse Café, and Caper Journal. He was recently nominated for two Best of The Net awards, and he has an online interview at Caper Journal (issue 8). He has four new chapbooks: The Girl Who Sang Forth Horses (Pudding House Publications, 2010), Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for Cezanne (Finishing Line Press, 2010), True Simplicity (Poets Wear Prada Press, 2011), and Art Is Always an Impression of What an Artist Sees (Muse Café, 2011).

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