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How to Clean Practically Anything


Yes, housework can be a chore

                    A day, a day rinsed free of night

everyone enjoys a clean and orderly home

                    a table wiped clear of crumbs and spills

the best way to do the maximum amount
of work, without becoming overwhelmed

                    floor swept, dustpan emptied into plastic
                    bags which are placed inside sealed metal cans

is to perform it in a systematic fashion

                    dishwasher emptied, opaque and stainless

blot the stain, wipe away any residue

                    whites now sorted, his socks, his shirts
                    old egg-yolk yellow under the arms

try these to ensure results
reward your efforts:

                    his underwear, the boxers faded and frayed
                    repeating their pattern of angular hearts

be sure to remove any hooks or weights

                    their scattered and miniature x's and o's
                    openings measured for admission or exit

don't overload the machine, and remember

                    his colors tangling in a tossed-off pile
                    of mostly darks, mostly black and blues

fabric becomes much heavier when wet

                    while here and there a spring green
                    a tremulous yellow

protect from strong sunlight
and abrasive objects

                    a newborn pink, streak
                    of surprisingly deep red

warning: damages may not be covered

                    like fresh blood, a raw and unsutured cut

try a product that claims to hide
surface scratches

                    to be rinsed and wrung, dried and folded and piled
                    into the thing we call a long marriage

if the marks have darkened
use a sharp knife

                    these daily removals, these many attempts
                    to wipe clean the counter the table the slate

if the burn is deep use filler
smoothing it to match the surface

                    the windows now free of fingerprints and smears
                    as if there were no glass no barrier no space

work carefully to avoid
damaging the paint

                    in which to revisit your own faint reflection

this coating should last for years


Jennifer O'Grady

Southwest Review

Volume 96, Number 1


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