Housekeeping by Natasha Trethewey

We mourn the broken things, chair legs
wrenched from their seats, chipped plates,
the threadbare clothes. We work the magic
of glue, drive the nails, mend the holes.
We save what we can, melt small pieces
of soap, gather fallen pecans, keep neck bones
for soup. Beating rugs against the house,
we watch dust, lit like stars, spreading
across the yard. Late afternoon, we draw
the blinds to cool the rooms, drive the bugs
out. My mother irons, singing, lost in reverie.
I mark the pages of a mail-order catalog,
listen for passing cars. All day we watch
for the mail, some news from a distant place.

My Father as Cartographer by Natasha Trethewey

In dim light now, his eyes
straining to survey
the territory: here is the country
of Loss, its colony Grief;
the great continent Desire
and its borderland Regret;

vast, unfathomable water,
an archipelago—the tiny islands
of Joy, untethered, set adrift.
At the bottom of the map
his legend and cartouche,
the measures of distance, key

to the symbols marking each
known land. What’s missing
is the traveler’s warning
at the margins: a dragon—
its serpentine signature—monstrous
as a two-faced daughter.