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Poetry #473
(published February 11, 2010)
And We Clean
by Kelly Cahill
Formica, is a dirty thing
the crease in her otherwise youthful
brow says it all as she
scours again and again, fine hairs along
the slightly bent wrist, stand
at attention, the soft jiggle and sway
of her untoned arm.

I will bleach it all away for you
I whisper, she cannot hear me above
the sound of her own scrubbing.
Sweat beading and falling, undoing
all the work needed to
be done.

I want to fix this for you in some
small way, annihilate the
invisible intruders and put you to
bed, allow you to rest if only a single
second before you take on the
imaginary parasites once more.

I only ever needed you to tell
me that men were more than molecules
biding time on the handles of doors,
or in the trace of grease along a surface of
counter space, vast and empty
between the coffee pot and crumb-ridden toaster.

But it was not your style, to give
credit to all the reasons we clean
ourselves. I scrub
my body daily as instructed, in a furtive
attempt to wash away his fingerprints, the path of his
tongue along my thigh, confusion in his absence. All
the reasons that make me a woman.

Kelly Cahill was born in Columbus, OH, and works in the insurance industry.

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