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Peter Everwine

Peter Everwine

Peter Everwine was born in Detroit and raised in Western Pennsylvania. His most recent book is From the Meadow (University of Pittsburgh, 2004). Forthcoming is Working the Song Fields, translations of Aztec poetry.

The Rag Rug

In our kitchen was a rag rug
my mother bought for its bright mix of colors.
It was my task on cleaning days
to drape it over the line in the back yard
and, with a tool shaped like the wing
of a giant dragonfly, proceed to whack it
until a cumulus of dust swirled overhead,
earning my mother's approval.
Cleaning—what she called "redding up"—
was both industry and passion for her,
while I, in my arrogance, thought it foolish
and beneath my talents: The dust she chased
from one corner fled to another,
and then she, too, was dust.

Grown old now, I live alone
in a house Time traded me, house for house,
until I learned grief also is a kind of clutter:
Drive one grief out the door,
two others knock, seeking a place within.
And though too late, I ask for her forgiveness,
who hated whatever tarnished or made dim
the light and luster of common things:
lamp, glass vase, the figure in a photograph,
wood grain of table, braiding in a rug—
this rag rug I took from memory
and put into a poem, that I might see it, as before,
dancing its tiny fires into the morning's
early slant of light.


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