April Ranger

Dishwasher: A Portrait

One who scrubs plates,
pans, fishtubs, separates forks knives spoons
ramekins espresso cups, one who lifts
and lifts, hangs dripping metal
from high hooks, darts between expediter
and line cooks, heaves enormous fire-
hot pots and scrapes and rinses and takes out the trash
and sometimes sings. Juan dances at the end
of our shifts. He is all muscle. He hollers along
to Spanish pop songs, his voice a tree,
reaching up and up. I know English
is fucked, but there are few words
where the machine
is synonymous with the person
it has replaced. The dishwasher’s broken
I sometimes hear, or the dishwasher
called in sick
. Jesus is over fifty.
Thin and frail, about five foot two,
hunched over the sink, scouring long pans
with a rough green cloth. I rub his lower back
before he leaves and he always whispers, Jesus is the lord.
Praise God. His daughter Sophia
just turned one. Named after his mother.
Wisdom, I smile, and he grins back.
Yes, yes, he murmurs, fingers on his spine,
elbow out, trying to straighten his body,
upright, man-shaped, then wiping both hands
on a towel, Wisdom. She is so beautiful. Jesus is the lord.

April Ranger is a poet, playwright, and performer. Her work has appeared in several publications, including Muzzle Magazine, apt, and the anthology Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls (Writebloody, 2014). She grew up in Maine and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.