A Word of Advice

Published in Tiger’s Eye Press (Summer 2013)


In the event you are inspired to do a real, top-to-bottom, housecleaning
(even dusting under books to avoid that fingernail of dust left on their spines),
don’t—whatever you do—open them,
the ones you couldn’t part with, though not read for years,
aloud a child in your lap—
the favorites where all is alive, sentient, possible,
houses sigh, spiders give advice, mice dream.
Don’t stop the momentum to sit cross-legged on the mopped floor,
back against the bookcase,
and read them.
Either that, or clean the kitchen first.

I found the honey jar while scrubbing out the pantry,
on its side in a pool of sweet ooze.
The advance guard had found it first though, and relayed back its coordinates,
so that the line of workers was hundreds long,
lockstep up the cabinet frame, around the cans of tomato paste, left at the Crisco,
straight to the syrupy oasis, and then back down the other side,
homeward, carrying their amber treasures back to their queen, and
the young tucked into their tiny ant beds.

Rubber-gloved I descended upon them,
still with the flush of having gotten the crumbs out of the toaster,
the hair out of the sink trap.
A spray of orange oil and the first-hit writhed briefly
before curling into dead little dots, while the rest went into hyper drive,
frantically darting every which way.

But I cut them off,
pumping and wiping, pumping and wiping,
until every trace is gone.
Only after, weeping for all that was lost, all I had destroyed.