PoetryIssue 20 | May 2014

Seamstress

by Krista Genevieve Farris

She wakes when the howler monkeys
grunt, just before the Tico dawn.
She warms the beans and rice, fries the
eggs and some cheese and feeds four
sons and her husband who feed the
pigs and chickens and leave to taxi
tourists or move cattle around the finca.
She sweeps the house, shines the tile floor, and
when the truckers wake and have moved down
the muddy mountain to the jagged coast
she enters their payments into the hotel books
and cleans the cabinas one by one,
strips their beds and washes the sheets
in a sink with a bar of blue soap
then hangs them to dry on a long line strung
between the avocado and mango trees.
She tackles a pile of ironing,
presses jeans and cotton shirts.
When the heat hits the armpits,
she’s infused by her husband in the
steam of his sweat.There’s a scorpion in the
pile she kills with a flick of her fast
painted fingernail and the click of her heeled shoe. 
She winnows the rice and puts chicken
soup with ayote on the stove to feed
everyone who sits and then siestas.
She stands and urges eating until its gone,
spooning a few hot bites in her mouth
to make the tropical air seem cool,
then she turns her back to wash dishes and
waits for everyone to trickle
off to sleep. Her work begins. 
She goes to the porch and sits down,
flips a few switches and the humming begins. 
She sews hemlines, repairs split seams,
makes anything to order—a sweetheart neckline,
a slit up the leg—for a Tico, a gringo,
wanderers, locals. A German woman once brought
her a pair of overly worn unwashed shorts
with a threadbare crotch. She fixed them
and marveled a woman would leave her a thing so
dirty. She sings with her parrot and
swings the fabric around the machine while
the lora rocks on its perch.
The long needle of her baster bounces
like a camel cricket and gets faster
and frantic in the heat, the suffocating cloak
that forces each napper to violently
gasp awake. She flips the switches,
goes back inside to make rice pudding and
clean the bathroom, hoping to get in another
nip or a stitch before the sun falls
behind the mountain.

About the author

Krista Genevieve Farris is a poet run amok. Her husband and three boys are very patient with her compulsive writing habit and know not to turn on the ceiling fans above her piles of poems. She is equally enthralled with distance running, giving all ample time to play with the fan to restore good flow. Krista has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Social Change from Indiana University. Visit her blog.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok