Poetry: Faith Shearin

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

My Impressions

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


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