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 –
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