Over at my Sister’s Garden

Eszter Kállay

over at my sister’s garden

during an online family event for easter

her face in a small cube without context

she is at home, blue sky and the concrete wall, the huge

circles under her eyes, her child sitting in a swing

so we can keep distance

reduce our presence to the cube

sending her ’many hugs’

she hung up all the clothes in the garden

she had a run which is the one time she can

be alone

flowing movements of dishwashing

stiffening arms

all those baby-supplies are so neat

they want to make you forget that giving birth

comes with so much blood that you would rather think it is mud

her son stepping into all the puddles

i wave to them and move on, i do not hear the stories 

the objects around giving birth, the toys for children are always calm

her eyes are wide, her pupils narrow

like a birth canal

her face resembles mine so much it’s almost like

looking in a mirror, a cube in a secret garden

you cannot let others know how tired you are

i look at her body and examine the changes it bears

because of birth but i am afraid that it embarrasses her

her reflexes mirror mine, movements trying to cover change

a well-known body with an unknown modification

i try to ask her, about the objects, the toys and how she

feels but

happy easter we say and i look at how she put

some make-up on for our family time

her son falls asleep in the swing below

a cherry tree that still has its flowers

the canal of the eyes is a one-way passage

i look away and a picture is taken

she blinks, the video call is over and

the safety of the screen dissolves

Context: I recently read ‘Care under Capitalism: The crisis of “women’s work” ‘ by Helen Hester. It is a concise and poignant analysis of the care work economy, of the crisis of work and communities, of the feminisation of care, and unpaid labor. It helped me understand how global chains of care work are built up. It is a very unsettling read, yet somehow it still has a certain ease and even humor. It has sentences like “Work, under current conditions, is bad for you. A recent article by Chandola and Zhang found that low-paying or highly stressful jobs were as bad for people’s health as unemployment.” I could not agree with her more.