Posts Tagged ‘cleaning’

how threadbare these thoughts
I’ve chosen to wear every day—
replacing them with nothing

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One Small Act




washing the counter

making it more beautiful

this nook in the universe

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I did it. Exactly as she said.

I removed everything

from my closets and drawers,

and touched each thing—

every sock, every shirt, every shoe—

and I asked them, “Do you bring me joy?”


Joy, it turns out, wears many clothes.

She likes scarves. Wide necklines.

Black pants. She loves long knit dresses

and tall leather boots. She needs

lots of sweaters and many gardening gloves.


And all the while I did it,

I did as she said, I visualized

the life I want,

which is apparently a life

in which my closet is full of black pants

and scarves and tall leather boots—

a life in which I talk to my clothes

and smile as they whisper back to me,

Joy, Joy, Joy.

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want to find him in my kitchen

with his big muscled arms

and his spotless white shirt.

Call me James, he’ll say, as I

pour him a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Then he’ll pull out a permanent marker

and write his name on the glass.

What are you doing? I’ll ask.

When I’m around, there’s a world


of crafty possibilities, he’ll say.

Then he’ll whip out his trusty white magic eraser

and swipe the permanent marker away.

And he’ll give me a spin—

Open for me your oven door.

Oh, James, I’ll say, you don’t mean …


that I will bring my legendary clean

to your oven glass? Why yes, Rosemerry,

I can lift grease buildup from hard to clean places.

He’ll give me a flex. Kitchen sink next?

He’ll swagger across the room. I’ll swoon.

Oh, James. I never knew you’d be so, so, so …


… adept at sticky residue? he’ll suggest,

and I’ll guide his hand to my

faucet. Say good bye to water spots,

he’ll say with a grin, his teeth glistening

like brand new white backsplash tile, like unused linoleum,

and we’ll dance together across the sparkling floor, sponges in hand,

drawn to whatever is dirty. And the room will smell

of meadows and bleach and rain. And oh darling, he’ll say,

don’t you think it’s time you took me to the bath?

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Don’t look in the sink for happiness.

It sounds so obvious. But even the shiniest,

cleanest sink is still only a sink.

Don’t look in the cupboards.

Don’t look in the fridge. Don’t look

to the tile floor—though this

is a place we’ve danced before.

Even the stovetop, the home of flame

and chemical change—the burners

are not what we seek. Of course

we look to the kitchen. The center

of everything. Don’t look out

the open window. Don’t expect

from the empty green vase.

The only thing that’s ever mattered

were the lovers in this space.

No matter how clean the counters.

No matter how soft the breeze.

It’s us, my love, it’s us that’s missing.

It’s us that we most need.



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After a Difficult Day

Because my heart is aching,

I clean the stove. It’s covered

in dark brown stains, stains

so burned on they seem

to be part of the stainless steel.

Because I am practical, I wear

plastic gloves while I scour.

I know that the cleaner

would ripple my fingers and dry

my skin for days. And because

I would rather not cry right now,

I turn on my music and play

Joni Mitchell as loud as the speakers

will play. She always knows

just what to say. There are some

places now where the stovetop gleams

so silver it looks nearly new. There

are some stains I know, that no matter

how many hours I scrub,

they will never leave.

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I am sorry I threw away your broken tiara,

the blue Cinderella dress with the ripped sleeves,

and the wand with the faded pink star.

I am sorry I tossed out the magic eight ball

with the blue message in the bottom that always said,

“Not Sure,” and the various mismatched sections

of Hot Wheels race tracks. And the pen

with the bobblehead that always falls off.

And you won’t find Barbie’s black high heel

rubber shoes with the broken back strap.

Or the toy Pegasus with only one wing.

Or the shiny slinky with the torque in it’s spring.

I threw them away.

There was more.

I know you loved them, those broken bits

of childhood, those souvenirs of past happiness.

I did it while you were in the other room,

and took out the guilty bag before you could peek inside.

I knew you would want them back, the jacks

you have never played with, the crappy plastic Elsa kazoo

you got at your best friend’s party.

And when you ask me, “Mom, have you seen

that little green rubber fish that I won at the carnival

four years ago”—yeah, I know you won’t ask me,

but if you do—I am prepared to say No,

no I haven’t. I’m sorry.

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