Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

DUSTING, by                 Poet's Biography


"Dusting" is a poem by Julia Alvarez that explores the themes of memory, loss, and the passage of time. The poem was first published in 1991 as part of her collection "The Housekeeping Book."


The poem is narrated by the speaker, who reflects on the act of dusting and the memories that it evokes. The speaker describes the various objects and artifacts in the room that she is dusting, and the memories that they hold.

As the poem progresses, the speaker contemplates the ways in which the passage of time has changed both the objects in the room and her own sense of self. The poem ultimately concludes with a sense of acceptance and gratitude for the memories that remain, even as the objects themselves may fade away.

Poetic Elements:


  • Imagery: "dusting," "furniture," "pictures"
  • Allusion: None
  • Metaphor: Dusting as a symbol of the passage of time and the inevitability of loss
  • Symbolism: None


"Dusting" is a poignant and reflective poem that invites readers to contemplate the ways in which our memories are intertwined with the objects and artifacts of our lives. The poem challenges us to embrace the passage of time and the inevitability of loss, while also cherishing the memories that remain.

Poem Snippet:

"Dust as I might, the past remains on surfaces,

in layers, the story of how we came to be."


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