here is a poem on cleanliness
dead flies on the windowsills, the corpses now
of more than one summer, weightless but unstirred
on the third story at the top of the stairs
impossible for her to climb them down
too much tiredness. but she will still
go there again some day, she promises.
will rest the bucket and sponge on every step
and breathe, waiting for the water to stop
sloshing in the pail and her heart to stop beating.
even if every step's an hour, a threat
of death, the attic will be clean again.
we watch. we notice the streaked tableware, the dust,
chipped things, and flecks of old food lying here,
on this first floor, its clearly dirty windows
beyond the ladder of her eyes, while in her words,
in her thought only the lament goes on
for the space above, that it's filling up with webs,
that it contents are waiting to be given
or thrown away. and how much we'd give now
for the oppressive cleanliness that once
reached everyday, angrily, into the least
and darkest corners of our childhood
to show us its vigor again, that fearful
enemy we won our best days in opposing.