As I clean my sister's house
so that she can lurch her walker from sink to bed,
I can't fault her for not trying to shift the world.
Every pile and corner topples good cause and self-help. Projects
too–

tacks and hooks in the bags she bought them,
tape and polish to fix and shine,
years of intentions in their original wrap,
ice-grippers to walk the dogs,
who, it’s obvious, have gotten no farther than the yard.

Zippers, patches, schemes,
a pane of new glass for the cracked,
dust buster in his box,
workshop vac scattered.
Only the old Steinway stands against the devastation

with its burden of Beethoven and Brahms–
her reliable boys–
and the piano bench with its generous lap.
Through her haphazard pain
my sister has been practicing.

After she comes home,
I continue my sweep for lost coins and can openers
while she sits and fingers forth Mozart for me.
I do not know which sister I should be–
Martha with her busy hands or the listener Mary.

About the Poet

Lois Marie Harrod’s book Brief Term, poems about teaching, was published Black Buzzard Press (2011) and her chapbook Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook contest (Iowa State University). Her chapbook Furniture won the 2008 Grayson Press Poetry Prize. Previous publications include the chapbook Firmament (2007); the chapbook Put Your Sorry Side Out (2005); Spelling the World Backward (2000); the chapbook This Is a Story You Already Know (l999); Part of the Deeper Sea (1997); the chapbook Green Snake Riding (1994); Crazy Alice (1991); Every Twinge a Verdict (l987). In 2003, she won her third poetry fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts. She has been widely published online and in print journals including American Poetry Review, Blueline, The MacGuffin, Salt, The Literary Review, Zone3. A Geraldine R. Dodge poet and former high school teacher, she teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey.