Servants by Faith Shearin
In college I read about Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton
and I thought of their great minds and their long dresses
and their gilded friendships which involved tea
in the library or on the lawn. I thought of the places
they traveled and the weight of their trunks
and all the ways their marriages did or did not
please them. I thought of the dogs that followed
at their heels and the rooms and gardens they
decorated and the beaches where they
carried umbrellas. But I never once thought of
their servants. I didn’t think of the cook who
woke up to make the fires of morning or the maids
who stood over a pot of hot soap, stirring the day.
I did not think of how someone dressed them
and scrubbed their floors, how someone
brought their dinner on a tray. It was years before
I knew they had them at all: invisible, unremembered,
people who gave their lives to drudgery. Now I
can barely write or finish a book for all the housework
and errands, now I think of them: knocking dust
from the curtains, carrying the rugs outside
each spring so they could beat them with a broom.
See more poems in Sabio’s Poetry Anthology
The poem speaks for itself. But it is this sort of poetry — clear, direct but deep — that I love.
About Faith Shearin:
- I am not sure when Faith was born (? 1970s) and she has been variously reported to have lived in a cabin on top of a mountain in West Virginia with her husband, her daughter, and an opinionated dachshund and in Baltimore.
- This poem, “Servants”, is from Faith Shearin’s book Telling the Bees. © Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2015. Found on The Writer’s Almanac.
- another poem: “Buried” and author’s statement.
- Poetry Foundation: three more poems