Invisible Work

or teachers,      guides whose gestures      I recall better than names
            so much I’ve been taught I have yet to know

but ode            to every stitch of braid past my mother’s fingertips 
sewing countless
                                     buttons for every day my grandmother
cooked and cleaned house twice

& Sis. Eugenia Foster 
who kept my brother and I in summer who taught me 
              steeping and drinking tea  & how      I could call for someone 
but not cry       when they passed over

the wind chimes too        all their constant worry with wind

even after her stroke        my grandmother Dorothy rose on cold nights                    
pulled a heavy leg down the hall                     
to cover me with a quilt 
her own grandmother quilted

            on his days off       my only father     
lacquered my found rocks
            praised my keen eye
                           wasn’t he urging me to notice?

I see now,       
all this gracious    lack of accounting    & maybe too
how tonight in terrific storm      when the wind picked up and pitched
warning     this primal body took off running

            homing through our dark house
towards the beds where my children sleep

Copyright © 2024 by Kwoya Maples. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 7, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.