Day Work

Margaret Peters Schwed


Sarah, picture me
up the hill
above the oaks and pond
on the east side of the shed
balancing, one hand
on the raw wood
at the top of the ladder,
can of paint between my feet,
green slipping from the brush into the grain—
Around the windows, up to the roof, the small brush
now equally good
in right hand or left. Yet
more than this sun requires,
into the straw
of the hat you think
ridiculous, I sweat: scalp, arms, and back.
Stomach. Legs and footsoles. There is

no one—not in the field
nor barn, nor pen, nor sheepfold
to know
how I dread this height
and, knowing, keep a watch.

So, when the bees come, my Sarah,
from the hives low on the hill
(light having fallen hard on them
or a message having reached them),

without thought, unseen,
I turn to their large hum,
to the spectacle of them,
letting go of the shed,
sweat like tears coursing
down my knees, glad past fear
to see the lit swarm school in air.


Margaret Peters Schwed's poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Raritan Review, Pleiades, Blackbird, Commonweal and Rattapallax. Her first chapbook, Out of Season, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She reviews poetry for Pleiades and

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