Green Hills Literary Lantern

Kitchen Work


for Margaret



After the big family meal

I encouraged the others

to take coffee and talk,

so I could stay back

with the kitchen work.

How the body plays when

taken to task – the hands a pair

of competent divers who dredge

the dish pan for sunken cargo,

hauling up messy spaghetti spoons;

or like two sisters who spread

joy all around, administering

the sacrament of cleansing to each

smeared glass and wayward fork—

who salve the faces of everyday plates.


And consider the mind at rest

in the passenger seat—

a small chore around the house

like a jaunt in the car

with the windows open: the hair

in a tumble, the brain loosening

its grip a little, trusting everything

to the vigilant eyes, the feel

of the foot for gas and brake.


And best of all is the voice chiming in

with songs chosen for the CD player,

something whose smooth harmonies

it can easily keep pace with—

no warm-up necessary,

just sound sent off at a casual trot

that builds momentum, nudges

in between runners on a track;

and afterwards, in the brief space

between songs, to have the ear

attuned for sound in the next room:

the talk out there like a sea murmuring;

and you adrift on its gentle current—

riding buoyant, so sure of your place.






Joseph A. Chelius worked on his writing for many years before going to his job as editorial director for an advertising agency in Center City Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in such journals as Four Quarters, Christianity and Literature and Blue Unicorn; new work is forthcoming in Commonweal and Spitball.