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Category archive for: Dorianne Laux

The Shipfitter’s Wife

I loved him most

when he came home from work,

his fingers still curled from fitting pipe,

his denim shirt ringed with sweat,

smelling of salt, the drying weeds

of the ocean. I’d go to where he sat

on the edge of the bed, his forehead

anointed with grease, his cracked hands

jammed between his thighs, and unlace

the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles

and calves, the pads and bones of his feet.

Then I’d open his clothes and take

the whole day inside me—the ship’s

gray sides, the miles of copper pipe,

the voice of the foreman clanging

off the hull’s silver ribs. Spark of lead

kissing metal. The clamp, the winch,

the white fire of the torch, the whistle,

and the long drive home.

from SmokeFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2000
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

The Job

      for Tobey

When my friend lost her little finger

between the rollers of a printing press,

I hadn’t met her yet. It must have taken

months for the stump to heal, skin stretched

and stitched over bone, must have taken

years before she could consider it calmly,

as she does now in an airport café

over a cup of black coffee.

She doesn’t complain or blame the unguarded

machine, the noise of the factory, the job

with its long unbroken hours.

She simply opens her damaged hand and studies

the emptiness, the loss

of symmetry and flesh, and tells me

it was a small price to pay,

that her missing finger taught her

to take more care with her life,

with what she reaches out

to touch, to stay awake when she’s awake

and listen, to pay attention

to what’s turning in the world.

from What We CarryFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1994
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

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