NYCWP Voices: “New Freedom” by Carla Cherry

Once monthly, the New York City Writing Project celebrates the teacher-as-writer by publishing works of poetry and prose written by its teachers. If you are interested in submitting your work to NYCWP Voices, please read the submissions guidelines and submit your work by email to voices@nycwritingproject.org.


 

 

Tables For Ladies, Edward Hopper, 1930, oil on canvas

Tables For Ladies, Edward Hopper, 1930, oil on canvas

 

On April 17, 2015, the New York City Writing Project and Metropolitan Museum of Art co-hosted a Writing Marathon in the Met’s historic galleries. Participants drew inspiration from a variety of works of art.  The poem below, New Voices, by Carla Cherry, was inspired by the painting Tables for Ladies (Edward Hopper, 1930, oil on canvas).

 

New Freedom

 

This couple is here every Thursday night

He hangs her coat, her hat; his coat, his hat

They order the meatloaf special

Leave a dime after the bill

 

Every night there are bottles of sparkling water

adorning this buffet table

grapefruit arranged in a line

fruit basket in the middle with a sole pineapple, oranges, apples

surrounded by heads of lettuce.

I serve plate after plate, balanced adroitly on tray against bosom

 

Do they ever think about the burn in my back

from ferrying fruit and meals from kitchen to table

or how my waist itches

from tying this apron’s bow as tight as my smile?

 

That new cashier complains

about her aching feet. She stands in the same spot.

Taps out figures and gives back change all day, into night, as

I pocket my clinking tips each trip from table to kitchen.

 

We women got the vote.

Cut our hair and hemlines

Swung our hips to the beat and smoked in public.

I went from scrubbing floors in my mama’s kitchen

and ironing my father’s shirts

to this new burn in my back

-Carla Cherry
CarlaCherryHeadshotCARLA CHERRY is a native New Yorker, veteran English teacher, and poet. She self published a book of poetry, Gnat Feathers and Butterfly Wings.

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