Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

David RomvedtI’m on a stepladder, spacklin

a crack that opened in the wall

after an earthquake. My father

did this same work. At home,

he hit my mother–how soft

her face was. She told him,

“never again.” When he hit

his children she stayed quiet.


Even in small earthquakes

there are aftershocks and this

one’s no different. The ground

shaking again, I climb down

the ladder and sit on the floor.


My father away, my mother made

us sandwiches then gave the silent

blessing. Holding hands, I hoped

she couldn’t ready my thoughts.

Not that he hit us that often, I mean,

maybe, you know, I’m exaggerating.


I look out the window and watch

the leaves trembling on the trees.


For forty years she grew quieter,

one day whispering that she felt

short of breath, that her breathing

wasn’t right, she couldn’t breathe.


I get the broom and sweep up

bread crumbs and lint and hair.

I scrub the toilet then attack

the ring in the tub. It’s hot

and sweat drips into my eyes.


My mother died without a word

to me nor me to her. Who knows

when the house will stop shaking,

if it’s worth spackling the crack.

~ David Romtvedt

David Romtvedt, a graduate of Reed College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, served in the Peace Corps in the Congo and Rwanda and on a sister city construction project in Jalapa, Nicaragua. He teaches in the MFA program for writers at the University of Wyoming where he was the poet laureate from 2003 – 2011. His books include Buffalotarrak, an Anthology of the Basque People of Buffalo, Wyoming (2011) and the novel Zelestina Urza in Outer Space (2015), both from the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. His latest book of poetry, Dilemmas of the Angels, will be published by Louisiana State University press in spring 2017. He is the recipient of the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award, a Wyoming Arts Council Literature fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, the National Poetry series award, and two NEA fellowships in poetry and music.

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).


Comments on: "Housework by David Romvedt" (2)

  1. Excellent write!

  2. Annie Newcomer said:

    I have to say that I was moved by the poem AND also by both the poet’s and the judges’ bios which each held little pieces of poetry in them.
    I think that since we just experienced aftershocks here in Kansas from the Oklahoma earthquake that the topic fit well with nature comparisons. I also know that just as the mom was quiet, the dad in this poem may have been a victim of the way things “used to be done” in child rearing and considered love. So lots to think about. The extended metaphor was poignant. Thank you.

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