09 July 2016

Cleaning

In a narrow place,
a slice of time not space,
I wrap an apron around my
aging manly waist,
abstractly, of course.
Guys do not wear aprons
unless they are waiters at
bistros and tuck menus and towels
into the back of their beltless pants.

On the prosaic street
where lawns exist and have weeds,
where I live, I have an hour or so
to wash my clothes and dishes.
Patting my head while rubbing my belly,
I load the pants into the Maytag
while running hot water into the sink.
The washer door slams down
as I leap back to stop the spigot.

Alone in the house, it is loud
with churning and splashing.
The radio plays a melody
to the percussion of waters,
and I smile at my domestic powers.
Then, plunging my hand into the sink,
the heat attacks my hand, a swarm of bees
from which I quickly withdraw.
And I wonder how, among the scalding suds,
to find the dish or fork
before my hand is cooked into tandoori fingers.
Yes, the rubber gloves will insulate,
I think, but even then the heat
can find its way within.  Not before
I've plucked the spoon, the cup,
the dish, the bowl, and scrubbed their surfaces
and set them in the rack to dry.

The spin cycle has completed,
and I drag the denim, khaki,
fleece and terry from the drum.
They cling to it by weight, and I
I must wrestle them, my Laocoon,
but prevailing.
Now the dryer has them,
flaying their serpent skins
and whirling them back into clothes.


The dishes gleam in the stainless satin sink,
and I sweep the counter free of crumbs and papers
as I sweep out of the house to my paying job.
But nothing will feel so complete and right
as this small and transient victory.

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