National Poetry Month: Tova Hinda Siegel

I received the gift of Tova Hinda Siegel’s Uncertain Resident in the mail during this year’s PoetrySuperHighway Great Poetry Exchange, and Siegel has graciously agreed to let me feature some of her work on my blog during National Poetry Month.

As for her poem “Dishes of Life,” all I can say is that the humor and poignancy blend perfectly, and I totally feel seen.


Dishes of Life

The kitchen is now clean.
I gird myself for the inevitable battle
that I do constantly
with my husband and my children.
How many times have I explained the importance –
no –
the virtue of placing the bowls
in the back left of the dishwasher first?
Then and only then,
any overflow will go into the front left.
Unless of course the surplus of plates
has to go there
when the front right side is filled.
Plates must be lined up,
one per slot, barely needing a rinse
because of my foresight
in buying a dishwasher which rinses first.
But it may still have the odor of old food,
so I insist on the door closed.
The glasses must be placed
between the pegs, not on them.
Again, efficiency in mind
and use of space maximized.
I’ve repeated this important lesson so many times
but it goes unheeded.
The deep bowls are perfectly suited
for the back right
where the slots are much wider.
They do not go on the top shelf
which is where
not only glasses go
but also anything plastic
because you know the plastic will melt
if placed on the bottom near the heating coil.

But you don’t know
And I’m always moving the stuff around
because you’ve all refused
to take that extra minute
to keep it organized and moving smoothly.
So I do.
And then I feel accomplished
as if I have just completed a
vital task which will keep
me and my family
in shape
for at least another day, maybe two
because there’s never enough dishes
to run the dishwasher every day.
But they never learn the lesson
no matter how often I teach it.
And the dishes lay at odds with each other
in total disarray, disharmony and disgust
and I am the only one who cares about
the order of life.


Tova Hinda Siegel, a writer/poet, is a midwife, cellist, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of many children living around the world. After earning a BA from Antioch and an MS from USC, she began writing and has studied with Jack Grapes, Tresha Faye Haefner, and Taffy Brodesser-Akner, among others. Her work has appeared in, I’ll Take Wednesdays, On The Bus, MacQueens’s Quinterly, Gyroscope Review, PoetrySuperHighway, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Better than Starbucks, and several anthologies. Her first collection, Uncertain Resident, was published recently. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

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