It used to be that I would resent the need to clean house, finding
it too much, the tyranny of the vacuum cleaner cord, the
relentless shuuushh, shiiishh of the water faucet,
the Sisyphian quest to find a place for that. And that. And...
But that was before days like today. Now cleaning is tonic, penance, silent devotional.
I am cleaning, and it is not just the metaphor but physicality of repentance, cleaning
into the deep lateness of the evening, up and down stairs
again, again up to put away a toy, again down
to bring a forgotten plate to the kitchen. I pass by rubber ducks,
lonely playing cards, tags and labels and dustballs that I have passed
so many times, but this time I do not pass, I stoop
and pick each one up.
The garbage is nearly full and I have run
the vacuum cleaner, I have swept, I have knelt
on the kitchen floor to scrub the coffee grounds, the smudges of honey, dirt, garlic skins,
the swaths of milk and tomato juice,
I have washed every dish, put away every leftover, rolled reusable paper bags neatly.
I do not mourn my lost time.
This cleaning is prayer.
Prayer for lost tempers and impossible grace, prayer
for rest in the space behind my eyes, prayer
for the presence to ask forgiveness, to stop
next time, before I launch into the tight jaw clenching awful mind-altering anger.
Prayer that I will better equate knowing, doing,
that it will be as I say and as I do.
Prayer for these boys, whose model of kindness and patience and maturity has been stranded,
swept up in the wind of helplessness,
adrift in anger for which atonement is demanded.
I am in silence, my mind hums with the rhythm of my attrition, I feel that I have healed myself and every stroke of the broom, swipe of the cloth, shelved book, discarded jetsam is now one more cell of healing for my children, I have three of them, three boys, and the husband who is needed too, there are so many cells and I must put every one to right, this is not an easy task.
But it is my task, my journey, my quest and this is all that I honor, this is my option, my vocation, my story. I tell it to myself softly and I clean.