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It takes a long time to clean a house
by Isabelle Ghaneh

It takes such a long time to clean a house
any house (it must, I've seen other peoples' houses)
first I must lay down, get myself in order
it comes bit by bit
the sorting of the dirty laundry, this pile, that pile
the sweeping
the cobwebs, the alien spiders
I find one dangling by the washbasin (the sink we call it now)
the dishes, the dusting, the bathroom
finally I air the house out
letting in the small breeze that I can't wait to catch
then comes folding
hanging up the shirts, pants and putting socks in drawers
in between I take little rests
I listen to music
Carmine Burina, the white album
my mind pounds away
I remember things that never happened
the mother I could have had
if she hadn't been insane
the father he might have been
if he had any courage
the brother I wish I'd known
the cousins I lost
I think to last week, last year, last life
the phone call I want to make
and am afraid to
the quarters I keep in my pocket, in case this time I can put them in the payphone, the one
outside the library
the one I feel safe to use
I wonder what to do
I think maybe someone waved to me once
I did not wave back
does this mean I can call him now and say just this
is everything right now, is all forgiven
I want to make another call
;this one is to one
I haven't seen since I trekked over the Mojave desert
three years ago, it was so hot, July then, and again now
will I hear hello or even how are you or better yet
why did you call me
I wonder
will I wait for someone that maybe I don't want to wait for
someone still near the Mojave
I came back, he stayed
If I do wait am I still wanting to be this person’s wife
anymore or at all and what is a wife
anyway but a stupid title I felt I had to take on for societies sake
being on the outside for so long I found my ticket in and it was stamped wife
can I give that up
now everything is clean and tidy
I am clean and tidy
it just looks beautiful
I can pick up my yummy son from his job
the one he has for the summer before college starts again
in the fall
before he leaves me for months at a time
already you know I see it in his eyes
he's going going gone
before the day comes again, first of course the night
this night after he has dinner I rush to wash the dishes
I want all to be well and clean and tidy
Until tomorrow
Then it just gets dirty again
Until next Sunday, next August, next year
and I can clean up again

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Document last modified on: 01/12/2002

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