2023 Contest

Making Work Visible

City University of New York / Labor Arts

Karena Rong

Poetry  First PlaceKarena Rong Mathematics, Baruch College
“Sleep with the angels”/”Que sueñes con los angelitos”, Illustration from Si, Se Puede!/ Yes, We Can!  By Diana Cohn, illustrations by Francis Delgado, 2000
Time and A Half

This time next year, when you’re retired, your
hands surrendering over the bagged clothes and
body relieved of ashen nail beds, perhaps we all
would have met—

our heads bobbing over a dim-sum table, a
reimagined family sitting over a revolving
frame with laughter which banters over the
kitchen chatter—eyes devouring every

before our bodies can react and plates shift over
to a game of Tetris to fit more—regaining all the
maybes and perhaps—inevitable circumstances that
translated to our love, postponed.

I remember the lost time, barred by daily
commutes. Our love melted into lotion,
smeared across calloused hands that only ever
known work.

Picture me through my mother’s eyes—

Would you remember the color of my
laughter, the murmuring silence of its
muted cadence—would it be easier to
think of a price tag?

I have known collapsed trees because they
grew too big, the spine collecting debris
on two broken axes—half-distanced and
half-forgotten—bearing our

names that once known faces. Learning who
you are if not a mother or a worker—
wondering if the two are the same—and
still, learning to love you for it.