Minimized Memoir

Dirty Dishes in a Sink

by Joann Boswell

Spin it
twist it
stroke it­
it’s about presence
not practicality

I invite, welcome, host, rush, pamper, feed, baby
prepare the way, nest you cozy in my home
expect and receive no thanks
rest-reward after all have been attended
I too have listened: action is holy

My sister sits, spread-eagle, leans in, sucks
the marrow dripping from your every word
lingering, absorbing, star-struck inaction
supine succubus (forgive my Latin)

Then my crowning crime: speaking
a simple request to not be left alone
Teacher, is not your castle-dream to create community
work together, laugh together, listen together
Please wait for me…                              or at minimum—send help

For a flash you see me
I flutter, hope-filled
but your gaze shifts back
“Mary has chosen the good part”

Luke secondhand remembers harshly
Overlooked Martha: upset, anxious, aggressive,
distracted, troubled, bothered, encumbered,
fretting, fussing, busy, missing
the moment

Parable-loving physician author,
what was your intended lesson?
women belong silent, attentive?
work hard, but do it while Men sleep—
don’t let Him see the load you carry?

My story continues
brother dead, hurry to meet Jesus
grieving and believing, but belittled still
resurrection of roles:
still serving
sister still spotlighting
simplified slap in the face:
I am leaving soon, but the dishes
you will have with you always.



Joann Boswell
Joann Renee Boswell is a teacher, mother, photographer and poet currently living in Camas, WA with her partner and three children. Before having children, Joann taught and directed high school theatre in Washington state. Joann loves rainy days filled with coffee, books, handholding, moody music and sci-fi shows. Some places she’s been published include VoiceCatcher, Western Friend, The Martian Chronicle, otoliths and Mothers Always Write. Her first book of poetry, Cosmic Pockets, is expected May 2020 through Fernwood Press. You can read more at


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