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A Woman Waking Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 10

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She wakens early remembering

her father rising in the dark

lighting the stove with a match

scraped on the floor. Then measuring

water for coffee, and later the smell

coming through. She would hear

him drying spoons, dropping

them one by one in the drawer.

Then he was on the stairs

going for the milk. So soon

he would be at her door

to wake her gently, he thought,

with a hand at her nape, shaking

to and fro, smelling of gasoline

and whispering. Then he left.

Now she shakes her head, shakes

him away and will not rise.

There is fog at the window

and thickening the high branches

of the sycamores. She thinks

of her own kitchen, the dishwasher

yawning open, the dripping carton

left on the counter. Her boys

have gone off steaming like sheep.

Were they here last night?

Where do they live? she wonders,

with whom? Are they home?

In her yard the young plum tree,

barely taller than she, drops

its first yellow leaf. She listens

and hears nothing. If she rose

and walked barefoot on the wood floor

no one would come to lead her

back to bed or give her

a glass ofwater. If she

boiled an egg it would darken

before her eyes. The sky tires

and turns away without a word.

The pillow beside hers is cold,

the old odor of soap is there.

Her hands are cold. What time is it?


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