Dove's strongest feminist commentary derives from the housewife's private burden in "Dusting," the poet's most analyzed, anthologized poem. Keeping physically and mentally busy, Beulah challenges a nagging despair with fantasy. While hands combat the "grainstorms" with a gray dustrag, her mind flies free of housewifery to ponder the name of a boy who kissed her at the fair. Was it Michael? As though polishing her life, she rubs the furniture to a bright shine. Too late, an answer comes to her — Maurice, an exotic not-Thomas kind of name. In subsequent entries, Dove pursues her grandmother's emotional displacement. The grit of "Dusting" returns in the form of "Nightmare," a twenty-four-line torment that ends with a memory of her mother's cry — "you'll ruin us" — for opening an umbrella indoors, a violation of folkways. The verse cycle closes with "The Oriental Ballerina," a shifting, iridescent picture story centering on
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