Natasha Trethewey


Domestic Work, 1937 - Poem by Natasha Trethewey

All week she's cleaned
someone else's house,
stared down her own face
in the shine of copper--
bottomed pots, polished
wood, toilets she'd pull
the lid to--that look saying

Let's make a change, girl.

But Sunday mornings are hers--
church clothes starched
and hanging, a record spinning
on the console, the whole house
dancing. She raises the shades,
washes the rooms in light,
buckets of water, Octagon soap.

Cleanliness is next to godliness ...

Windows and doors flung wide,
curtains two-stepping
forward and back, neck bones
bumping in the pot, a choir
of clothes clapping on the line.

Nearer my God to Thee ...

She beats time on the rugs,
blows dust from the broom
like dandelion spores, each one
a wish for something better.


Comments about Domestic Work, 1937 by Natasha Trethewey

  • Drtony Brahmin (4/30/2019 1:42:00 AM)

    But Sunday mornings are hers-
    church clothes starched
    and hanging, a record spinning
    on the console, the whole house
    dancing. limited options for the african americans... expressed well. the slave life. tony
    (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/3/2017 1:54:00 PM)

    Her own face! ! Thanks for sharing. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Barry Middleton (3/3/2017 11:35:00 AM)

    A great poem by the laureate which brings back memories of my own childhood and the limited options for African Americans of the old south. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (3/3/2017 3:30:00 AM)

    a well written poem of a persons weekly routine? showing how they took pride in what they did! (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (3/3/2016 10:32:00 AM)

    Very moving poem...it makes.me think of appreciation for life. Good work on this poem. (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Margaret O Driscoll (2/24/2016 2:33:00 PM)

    I can just picture the woman from this piece! (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Wahab Abdul (5/24/2013 1:26:00 AM)

    heart felt poem.. love it... top marks.. (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (12/16/2012 6:11:00 PM)

    Billy Collins Mime. Billy Collins mimicked the institutional; suburban. Where there is a lack of waste. Where the real has been washed down the drain. The hypereal art is drawn out in lackadaisical observation as an accepted mineralization of brain rust. The suburban landscape... go back to your Eisenhower 50s. Find the new symbolism to cure our psychosomatic lethargy, eh? (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 8 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: house, girl, change, water, work, light, god, time, dance



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  7. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  8. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  9. Television
    Roald Dahl
  10. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
[Report Error]