Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

Four children, one tub
no running hot water––
How did she manage to keep us clean?

With pots and kettles on the stove
heating after supper on Saturday night
in preparation for church on Sunday

morning. The heated water half-filled
the claw-footed tub, and whoever was
first in the week’s rotation stepped

gingerly into the steamy bath.
My favorite slot was number three.
Like Goldilocks tasting the bears’

porridge and finding the bowl of Baby
Bear not too hot and not too cold
but just right, so it was with the third

slot. Granted I sat in a growing scum
but I didn’t mind, what with the rinse
the warm rinse a comforting caress

after it all. Like animals nuzzling
their fresh hay on a cold winter night
and settling into their clean bedding

with quiet nickers and oinks, we
settled onto clean sheets, murmuring
to each other as we fell asleep.

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Suspensions

My world is filled with hanging things––
pots and pans and cutting boards
sifters, spoons, and time-dried apples––
Things. And people too are hanging,
ancestral pictures nailed on walls.
Surfaces. Flat faces. No depth but then
move on to the eyes and there reflections are
of pots, pans, cutting boards
time-dried apples pungent with hidden life.

A Share of My Daily Bread for YOU

I lay this salver down before you
with the song I sing a thing of gold
upon it, my intention to please in
an act of love. Like Farmer Hoggett

in the movie Babe, who sang and danced
the pig back to health, I would if I could
dance for you like David before the Ark
where you dwelt alone. Would you

feel less alone with my song? sung
in a voice old and unpracticed?
and what I have to offer
to you whom I love.