Women's Work 
poetry by Samantha DeFlitch

Men from Pittsburgh believe in the immutable power of the parking chair. Men from Pittsburgh 
are filled with midwestern lore. My Uncle Don, he played the hand-slap game at funerals for good
passage of the dead. And also, Uncle Don cheated at backally bridge—only my mother knew this.
My mother was holy, but softly, like how she kept Uncle Don’s rigged bridge sheets quiet until 
he wasn’t really responsive anymore in the hospital bed. That morning she said I could wear a dress
or my Hines Ward jersey to Mass. I learned how to spell Roethlisberger from old Dave Brozeski’s
jersey—he sat one pew in front of us—and I learned women do the labor after the ground
receives the body: the burning of certain documents, the excavation of just the right-sized
Tupperware lid. Later, fried chicken fridged away, my mother would tell me I was angel-touched, 
like an opossum escaping fire. Aunt Kathy nodded, bald and knowing. Don’t tell the men, 
but it’s the post-funeral kitchens in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, where the work is done. Like all
the women of my mother’s line, I made myself small and quick. I learned to drop the “to be”—
it’s that much faster. Dishes need washed, dog needs walked, prophecy needs made. Hey, let the dog
sleep: my mother’s voice from the other room. Curled up nose-to-tail on the plastic couch-cover, 
she avoids the last gasp of the going. 

Samantha DeFlitch is the author Confluence (Broadstone Books, 2021). A National Poetry Series finalist, her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Colorado Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, and Appalachian Review, among others. Her work has been supported by the Martha's Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, the Audubon Residency at Hog Island, and the University of New Hampshire, where she completed her MFA. She lives in New Hampshire and is on Twitter @sdeflitchy.

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