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  • Writer's pictureLea Harper

Poem: Maid to Order

We’ve never met

but I come well recommended.

On a word you hand over

the keys to the kingdom.

It’s a calling, old as witching –

the bucket and broom girl slips

into the silence of your private chambers

circles the four corners to banish and purify

the remains of meals and baths

where hairs stick to toilet seats

skin flakes breed into dust –

Nothing personal.

I work the spider’s lair, the black seam,

finger bone china and soiled sheets.

I know what’s hidden in the cleft of cushions –

the torn camisole, the crumbs of love.

Last weekend you read Chekhov

and Vanity Fair

while the trees shed tiny needles

that sank into the upholstery.

I’ve unpinned you from such voodoo.

There’s so much you don’t see:

I trim the wicks off wet candles

for that aureole of wax that slows the burning.

When the forest extinguishes

what lies beyond your balcony

all that will exist is this bed and taper

sap and sky, a lake drenched in moonlight.

“Maid to Order” appeared in the minnesota review Issue 68, (174pp), 2007, Pittsburg, PA

and was shortlisted for the international Being At Work Poetry Challenge (LivingWorks) Ottawa, ON, 2007

(c) Lea Harper, 2007

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