by Sheryl St. Germain
One is some sort of cleaning woman
constantly sweeping and dusting,
straightening chairs, moving the furniture
around. A pile of what she calls
rubbish lurks in the corner of my heart.
Her vote is to wipe our hands of it all,
empty out every spidery corner,
get on with it, throw it all out.
Another sits in a farther corner at a small desk
doing mathematical proofs and equations
over and over, if this, then that, she scribbles,
x plus y equals n, heroin plus benzos equals death,
meth plus alcohol plus asthma equals death,
if only x had not happened, if only y
this plus this still equals this, this subtracted
from this still equals this, this divided by this
still equals this. It is still a mystery, we must
start all over again.
In another corner skulks a crazy woman,
hair unbrushed and matted,
dark circles rimming her eyes. Fingernails
bit to blood, she is mad with sorrow.
She will have nothing to do with the cleaning
of houses or the doing of sums.