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May 022010
 

by
Salvatore Attardo


 

I


 

Cleaning the basement

is like being born again

in a new life

without musty boxes,

dirty old chairs,

piles of dust and hair.

The boxes – there since the move –

smelling of cat piss,

the odor as pungent as incense.

I swing the bird feeder

(a failed present, I am afraid)

as a thurible and trash it.


 

II


 

Later, at six a.m., I watch,

from the bathroom window,

the garbage men

briefly lifting above their head

the wicker chest,

the ironing board,

the bloated plastic bags,

before casting them

into the truck’s

gaping back mouth,

their eyes downcast, serious,

steeled in this sacrament.


 

III


 

Cleaning the basement

with a scouring pad,

soap, and water by the bucket

is like a baptismal ritual,

my mop a giant aspergillum

to drench the faithful.

Except this faith

asks of no one

what they cannot give.