Before The Cleaners Come

I clear the kitchen counters,
empty the dish-drying rack,
tuck sponge and brush below the sink,
hook broom behind the closet doors.
The kitchen, dining room and hall are mine,
as we agreed some time ago
dividing up domestic chores.
I check the other rooms
for anything of mine not put away.
The rest is yours.

The night before the cleaners come —
every other week lest housework
be a cause for us to disagree —
your rooms are spread
with cross-stitch patterns,
skeins of floss and pages torn
from magazines.
Your finished needlework,
rolled in paper towel tubes,
crowd the coffee table.
Tote bags hang from backs of chairs.
Scissors, tape and wrapping paper
lie where they have lain
since your niece’s baby shower.
CDs still wrapped in cellophane
mingle with the paperbacks
in need of bookshelf space.
They’ll have to wait. For every book
you read three others take its place.
Bulging shopping bags reveal
the contours of your latest purchase.
The sales receipts roost here and there
as if our house were visited by paper birds,
making nests on every horizontal surface.

Later on tonight,
I hear your pre-clean frenzy
while reading by myself in bed,
or getting up to offer unrequested help
with tasks you’re storming through.
I hold my tongue, never having found a way
to speak and not become the echo of your father.
Besides, no matter what I said
you wouldn’t start until the night before
turning something simple
if done in daily increments
into something furious.

Still I’m curious.
Could we avert the rush
before the cleaners come …
and still be us?


About the Poet:
Kevin Shyne is a long-time writer and occasional poet. His poems have appeared recently in The Lyric and Clementine (Unbound).


Poetry Breakfast accepts submissions of poetry and poetry related creative non-fiction year-round.  See our Submission Guidelines page for details on submitting your work.


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