After dinner, all your relatives leave us
for the privilege and exercise of a walk.
They have driven, stirred, carved, served, smiled.
Daughters, grandchildren, and spouses bang out the back door
in haste of duty done
deciding you and I can handle the dishes.
My seeing fingers under sudsy water find cleanliness.
I do not know your dishes' blemishes well.
Orphaned friends don't require "good china."
I love the long serrated knives and the ladles
and the Depression-etched pickle dish.
We talk tradition and time, suddenly glad
the noisy, speedy, able-demanding people
are outside in changeable November
not knowing exactly what they need.
I rinse and fondle, listening for squeaky reach.
I am peaceful, methodical, slow.
I have something to prove.
You grasp and balance on a step-stool
without increasing the pain in your back.
You used to be tall.
You look closely through ebbing eyes
and learn to trust what my hands and ears know.
You have something to prove.