Llewellyn McKernan is a poet, children’s book writer, and teacher who has lived and worked in West Virginia for so long she considers it her home. She has had five poetry books published for adults and four for children. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, forty-four anthologies, and won ninety-six prizes, awards and honors. She has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Brown University and a Master’s in English from the University of Arkansas.
Though currently living in Florida, Llewellyn says, ” If home is where the heart is, writing poetry is almost home to me, and I’ve written more poems in West Virginia than anywhere else on earth.”
This poem is taken from the collection Getting Ready to Travel and has been reprinted with her permission because, in addition to being a wonderful poet, she’s a wonderful friend.
I make the beds. I set the table
for both the believer and the rebel.
I boil the water I take from the creek.
I work by the day. I work by the week.
I fill the pantry. I empty the pail
of whatever it is that I do so well.
I store the unseen with what can’t be heard.
I salt the real with the absurd.
Daylight and dark I break into crumbs
that feed the birds, one by one.
All the waste from babble and bile
I wash away, I wipe up with a towel.
I dust and mop, and shine and shower.
What gleams for you I’ve polished
for hours. This dull routine goes on and on.
Sometimes I like it but it’s never fun.
I have the dirty job of making things clean.
Once that is done, they say what they mean.