Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Red Wine Spills

I am hovering over this rug
with a hair dryer on high in my hand
I have finally, inevitably, spilled
red wine on this impractically white
housewarming hand-me-down from my cousin, who
clearly, and incorrectly, thought this was a good idea

With the help of a little panic,
sparkling water and a washcloth,
I am stunned by how quickly the wine washes out,
how I was sure this mistake would find me
every day with its gaping mouth, reminding me
of my own propensity for failure
and yet, here I am
with this clean slate

The rug is made of fur,
which means it died
to be here

It reminds me of my own survival
and everyone who has taught me
to shake loose the shadow of death

I think of inheritance, how this rug
was passed on to me through blood,
how this animal gave its blood
so that I may receive the gift of its death
and be grateful for it

I think of our inability
to control stories of origin
how history does not wash away
with water and a good scrub 

I think of evolution,
what it means to make it through
this world with your skin intact,
how flesh is fragile
but makes a needle and thread
of itself when necessary

I think of all that I have inherited,
all the bodies buried for me to be here
and stay here, how I was born with grief
and gratitude in my bones

And I think of legacy,
how I come from a long line of sorcerers
who make good work of building
joy from absolutely nothing

And what can I do with that
but pour another glass,
thank the stars
for this sorceress blood
and keep pressing forward

Credit


Copyright © 2020 by L. Ash Williams. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 30, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“I wrote this poem because a typically benign experience became a stand-out moment in my day. Liquid spills all the time, but there was something about this one—the ‘of course’ moment when I knocked the glass over; the wave of negative self-thought that rolled in when it happened; the utter relief I felt once the stain disappeared. It stuck with me in an almost disturbing way, and I wanted to explore that.”
L. Ash Williams

Author


L. Ash Williams

L. Ash Williams was Host Committee Chair for the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPs) in Brooklyn and a member of the 2013 louderARTS National Poetry Slam team.

Date Published: 2020-07-30

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/red-wine-spills