A Woman's Work

I am scared

to marry you.

I do not want

to forget


black ink

on clean sheets

pencil markings

in the margins

next to texts.

Mama told me

“A woman’s work is

never done.”


must always be taken out


must always be done


must always be made


must always be washed

There is a list

longer than a study guide

on Chaucer.

But I’m afraid

that the notes

I make

for The Canterbury Tales

will be lost

in the hamper

wetted in the washing machine

torn in the dryer

and pressed by the iron.

Mama told me another thing—

to marry

a man smarter than myself.

She said it would make me


But I know she said this

so I won’t feel

a lost cause

when gardening

and tidying

because the partners

are coming to dinner.

©Julie Bolitho.“A Woman’s Work,” Poem. The Offbeat: Fully Clothed. Michigan State University Press: Vol. 6. (Spring 2006), p. 76-77.

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© Julie Bolitho 2018