Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Maid's Lament

A Maid's Lament

It's strange the things you learn about people
from the things they choose to throw away,

a silk shirt crumpled up in the wastebasket,
without a trace of the evening left behind,
as I examine it in the daylight,
trying to determine what it is they thought

I couldn't save with my brushes and soaps.

I am an apothecary, mixing magic potions
to lift out pigments and proteins;

blood, vomit, sweat and more I've scraped out
of the crotches of panties, the cuffs of Sunday suits,
even the hem of a wedding gown.
I've bleached away first periods,

and recently, a woman's last.

I'm hired to help people disappear from their homes,
wiping away the fingerprints of family and secret strangers

from banisters and doorjambs, dissolving footprints
from the polished floors of front rooms, where a casual acquaintance
might stumble across these clues, put two and two together,
turn around and leave.

But what's more peculiar, I think,

is how thoroughly they want me to clean their most private spaces,
how offensive they find their own refuse,

how quick they are to discard themselves.
That is why maids are necessary, to face the waste
of day to day existence, to focus on the depth of scratches,
the spread of spills, the loosening of screws,

the stubbornness of stains.

Otherwise, every displaced, dirty, or broken thing,
becomes a mirror.

People have become to me,
a list of items to be mended and sorted.
They become this to maids, so that to each other
they can remain human, whole and lovable.

It's hard work.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006



I can not remember the sound of our mother's voice,
or even how she looked, the memory of her slipped
from my mind long ago, like a theif
disappearing into the night,
pilfered heirlooms tucked neatly in his pockets.

When I was a boy I would pretend to sleep, listening
to your whispered prayers, unraveling tone, pitch, timbre,
from the chord of your voice, searching
for strands of her sound
I could weave into a memory that would never leave.

Is it so strange then, that every angel that perched
along the branches of Bible verses taking root in my mind
shared your silhouette? That each
haloed head bowed to reveal
the sweet lunette of your neck? That my mind would turn

the feathery turnings of wings into the feathery turnings
of your hair over my face as you leaned down to kiss
me goodnight? That when I woke from a nightmare
once and you were standing
at the side of my bed, the moonlight made a nimbus around you?