By Ashley Seitz Kramer
The woman washes the dishes by hand in her sink. She has always done this. She uses the hottest water she can stand. It’s too hot for other people to touch, but she submerges her small hands without any fear: first her fingertips, then her knuckles, then her palms (which have been read three times by the same person in different cities, in varying states of sobriety), and then finally, the thin skin of her wrists is shocked. She closes her eyes and measures the pain. She keeps her eyes closed, searching for any hidden pains within her. Already the soap suds are deflating. Already the water is cooling, almost imperceptibly, though the woman can distinguish each degree and its precise effect. She runs a soapy rag around the face of a plate, in the mouth of a mug, in the kneecap of a spoon. After the dishes are finished, she dries her hands—now raw and red, almost glowing—and watches the dishes drip and drip. How clean she can get them, she thinks. How they shine.
– Ashley Seitz Kramer has won the Ruth Stone Prize, the Schiff Prize, the Utah Writers’ Award, and most recently, the Zone 3 Press First Book Award for her full-length collection of poems, Museum of Distance (forthcoming October 2015). She’s taught college writing for a decade and currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she’s an assistant dean at Westminster College and a doctoral student at the University of Utah.