Hands and Knees
She drops down, swipes over polished floors,
repeating back and forth motions,
elbows cracking, jaw set and grimaced.
It would be, could be zen,
though it’s clearly frustration in motion,
the drudgery of repetition maintained for decades.
I, too, witnessed the old leviathan dying,
the one who taught her that cleanliness was
as close to God as she was going to get in this life.
You could have dined off those spotless floors
strewn with tears of broken children;
yet there she lay, supine and fretful,
a halo of white frizz surrounding
smooth face, etched only in trails
of anger and betrayal and utter disgust
at a body refusing to quench its damnable
insistence to sustain life, such as it was.
The woman child scrubs until finish rubs free;
yet no matter how many repetitions,
how many rags are rubbed to shreds,
the angst continues, unabated:
something to fill the silent pounding,
the insistent beating of a heart unsure of itself,
afraid of not measuring up,
as though purity could be earned
by the sweat of one’s brow.