Updated: Jan 27
Art is inexplicably indescribable. There is no label that can be assimilated to the art that an artist can concoct. It is not simply the everyday stereotypes of writing, painting, and drawing. Even the smallest things can be an art if you choose to look at it from a different perspective. Arranging the dishes, sweeping the floor, and dusting the furniture can all fit into the art of perfection.
“Woman’s Work” by Julia Alvarez
Who says a woman's work isn't high art?
She'd challenge as she scrubbed the bathroom tiles. Keep house as if the address were your heart.
We'd clean the whole upstairs before we'd start downstairs, I'd sigh, hearing my friends outside. 5 Doing her woman's work was a hard art.
to practice when the summer sun would bar the floor I swept till she was satisfied.
She kept me prisoner in her housebound heart.
She'd shine the tines of forks, the wheels of carts, 10 cut lacy lattices for all her pies.
Her woman's work was nothing less than art.
And I, her masterpiece since I was smart,
was primed, praised, polished, scolded and advised
to keep a house much better than my heart.
I did not want to be her counterpart!
I struck out...but became my mother's child: a woman working at home on her art, housekeeping paper as if it were her heart.
This poem brings about many emotions to me due to the shift of tone. My favorite line is definitely “Who says a woman's work isn't high art?” because it shows validation to the women who choose to work at home. When this poem was written, many women had started to find jobs and defy the social norms at the time; some women however, chose to be a housewife as their full time job. These women deserve as much validation for the work they do. The imagery is what makes this poem such a work of art in itself. Using a child’s perspective, we see a comparison between a home and a heart. Although the small girl desires to play outside rather than clean her house, she later realizes that her mother was creating a form of art. “I struck out...but became my mother's child: a woman working at home on her art, housekeeping paper as if it were her heart.” The author realizes that she has turned into her graceful mother. This poem is a favorite of mine because of the various connections to how a mother treats her house. Ethereal descriptions tied the poem together leaving a feeling of nostalgia in my body and I hope you felt a hindrance to that as well.