The Zen Of Housework

  • I look over my shoulder
  • down my arms
  • to where they disappear under water
  • into hands inside pink rubber gloves
  • moiling among dinner dishes.
  • My hands lift a wine glass,
  • holding it by the stem and under the bowl.
  • It breaks the surface
  • like a chalice
  • rising from a medieval lake.
  • Full of the grey wine
  • of domesticity, the glass floats
  • to the level of my eyes.
  • Behind it, through the window
  • above the sink, the sun, among
  • a ceremony of sparrows and bare branches,
  • is setting in Western America.
  • I can see thousands of droplets
  • of steam — each a tiny spectrum — rising
  • from my goblet of grey wine.
  • They sway, changing directions
  • constantly — like a school of playful fish,
  • or like the sheer curtain
  • on the window to another world.
  • Ah, grey sacrament of the mundane!

Al Zolynas spent his boyhood in Australia before coming to the United States when he was 15. He taught literature and writing at Alliant International University (formerly USIU) for many years. An experienced Zen practitioner, he has recently begun teaching at Zen Center San Diego. “The Zen of Housework” is from The New Physics, published by Wesleyan University Press. The entire book can be read online at The poem is published by permission. Photo credit: Arlie Zolynas.

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this is just so nice...u weave a beauty into dishwashing with ease...thank u very much!!

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