Housework

by Renee Emerson

Mopping the floor, pushing the slug-trail
of water across linoleum, I like anything
I can put my entire body into. Feels vital
to cause muscles to protest like an escape
from a sinking trailer, silver-can home,
my uncle’s place last September, swallowed
by the Mississippi River bowling over its banks.
Perfection has something to do with a country house,
dogs and kids on the lawn. So he didn’t have it,
just photographs of himself when he was young.
I imagine us a house overtaken by water, silt sliming
the floorboards, river gazing out windows
at more river, the fish in the cabinets our finned mice.
A short swim to work and eternally soaked dishes,
a pot of salt soup. Your keys scraping
the door-lock and the clean of artificial lemon,
a reminder of the good, the given.


RENEE EMERSON’s work has been published in 32 PoemsStirring and Indiana Review, and she is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Where Nothing Can Grow (Batcat Press). She teaches at Shorter University in Rome, GA, where she lives with her husband and daughter.