Labor

by Leah Huizar

I. Immigration

She lived under leaves, lissome and cold,
in a wild bed burrowed beneath the arched roots
of a decrepit tree. Time grew rings in the soles of her
feet. She left the roots and the beetles, a cradle

she’d carved from the dust. She traveled like driftwood,
riding a winding path to a hill-cut town. Its mottled and wet
banks wash her into their backdoors. In these new places,
she swept the rooms of wooden mistresses,

embraced their linens: Scrubbed and wrung brown sheets;
plunged her chipped knuckles in smoky water. Slog up, grind down.
Skin and cloth against furrowed washboard ridges; spine bent
and unbent under the wet morning. She threads her days.

II. Skins

To skin potatoes you have to get bone-close.
Flick the peeler’s blade a cut above a bracing thumb;
now whittle what’s withering,
scalpel the sheath that rots; run down the cinched
starch bodies, separate skins from cores.
Rind dirt will rub into perspiring pores,
wet, where your fingers glide and shift and score
another veil of skin. Cut again
but here with a chef’s knife; precise. Incisions
so clean the oval flats sweat glossy sheens
that glint with light like mirrors. The starch
will glisten and bead but you won’t stop. You’ll cut
and cut, while the beige oxidized in air turns dark,
the way blood does, leaving the body.



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