Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 5: Aunt Josie’s Housekeeping, Inc.

Aunt Josie’s Housekeeping, Inc.

I clean houses.  I vacuum.  I dust all the cheap ceramic knick knacks collected over a lifetime of distractions.  I scrub the tub, the toilet, the edges of the sink, behind the faucets.  I tote a bucket full of top-notch products:  Pledge, PineSol, Comet, 409.  I wield sponges with scratchy edges.  I put away towels, mop hardwood floors with water and vinegar, sometimes on hands and knees if that’s what you like.  I wash dishes encrusted with hard scraps, throw out fast food bags and Big Gulp cups, sweep up the spilled Cheerios.  I find a corn plant growing in the soil between the edge of the linoleum and the baseboard of the kitchen sink.  Illegal.  I don’t pluck it out, leave it green, exuberant, the ribbony leaves spiraling up into the light of day. I clean houses.  $10 an hour, no benefits, no sick leave.  No union.  I pull pornography out from under the playroom sofa, dump moldy plastic containers from the fridge, kneel before the vegetable bins in soapy attention.  I feed the surviving goldfish, give the feral teddy bear hamster water, replace wet stinky cedar shavings from its cage with fresh chips.  I put on rubber gloves to empty the overflowing cat box, scrape clay pellets hardened into a layer like sedimentary rock.  I empty the garbage can in the master bedroom: used condoms and wrappers, torn pantyhose, toenail clippings.  Kleenex.  Pages ripped from a spiral notebook: “Why did I ever sleep with him?  This affair was a terrible mistake.  How could I have hurt so many people?”  I polish the locked case beside the bed, carved of dark wood, smelling of weed and patchouli.  I clean houses.  I sop up secrets.  I smooth out the wrinkles on the surface of lives for people too busy or too important to do it themselves.  I’m a dark woman with a long black braid, walking across the lawn at the end of a long week.  You don’t see me.  You won’t remember me.  Except for this poem, it’s like I was never there.

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