Poetry Archives G-H

Hagiography of a Housecleaner

What do you do?
a seemingly interesting
and interested man asks
glass in hand
smile ready and eager to hear
“teacher” “lawyer” “software developer”
even “aerobics instructor”
would keep him there

I clean houses
she says and watches
his interested interestingness fade
as he leans away ever so slightly
and to pull him back
she doesn’t say
I mop floors for women
who never expected
to spend so much time on them

and she doesn’t say
I wash sheets that no one sleeps on
because no one in those houses
is sleeping much these days
and I wash very few dishes

and she doesn’t say
I help complete strangers
whose lives have been
ripped out from under them
keep their grip
on some small semblance of pride
because much as we all like to think
we could either keep doing it all
or let the things that don’t matter not matter
there’s a middle ground you don’t know about
until you’re on it
and it’s a very special kind of hell
when it takes everything you are
to just get through the day
and at the end there’s nothing left
for dusting or laundry or toilets
but the end of the day
is when the well-wishers come
with casseroles your kids won’t eat
and words that want to mean something
and they would never dream of judging you
for a less than perfectly clean house
but that little place in your head
where the Ideal Patient lives
the one in all the books
whose husband always has clean socks
and whose baldness just brings out her cheekbones
she wonders if you couldn’t have done
maybe just a little more
and it does all the judging necessary
and it’s so much more than enough

and she doesn’t say
the pixie cut he complimented so lavishly
took eight months to grow

and she doesn’t say
goodbye
when he walks back to the bar
 
 
Have You Stopped This One Before?

I stared glassy-eyed
at your stoned housing
never said never
once again
and let everything happen
to my reason
swiftly beholden to the beauty
of a third wrong
in the company
that so loved my misery
for the time it took
to wound all healing

I let beauty skin me
too deeply
truth is
you had me at hell

But for all my wishful caring
the medicine remains
your best laughter
and the warmth
that keeps me loved
to blindness
keeps me from seeing a word
that could be louder
than your actions
a way just once to get to you
earlier than the worms

Watching you fix yourself
to broken
hoping it isn’t long before
this one who is lost will wander
 
 
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