Current Occupation: Unemployed (Writer).
Previous Occupation: Human Services.
Contact Information: Worked for over a decade with the developmentally disabled in institutions and group homes.
Strings in the Mop Closet
One hour before Clermont Institution’s third shift trickles in—
the arctic winds howl, windows frost like an ill-kept icebox,
and nonstick drapes rustle with every gust—we do last bed check
on the children labeled "Special Needs" this year. Sedated apnea
permeates the air. You straighten and collect toys,
ones that only made it a day, Teddy Bears dissected in the "mad lab"
with entrails scattered all about. Deadbolts re-checked
on medication cabinets and candy drawers, locked down
and sealed tight, no chance of escape tonight.
I document life as the late news flickers
past the shatterproof screen of the television set:
Which ones bit? Any progress to report?
Did any behave? And who ripped out clumps of hair?
We assume our roles, exhausted and passionless,
raising children in a dilapidated home. All things scoured
with bleach but nothing gets clean.
You pull out that purse, the one I call
It’s your biography—
embracing every style of antibacterial soap, sample vials
of perfume lifted from the cosmetic aisle, diet pills
and bubble gum, and piles of glossy photographs.
There’s one of your husband giving the thumbs up on the GM
graveyard line, Kiki the Pekingese, and your son—
not much older than me—camouflaged in the Afghanistan sand.
And you as a teen on a Spring Break beach, a glint of naivety
transfixed on your face, like the world was your palm.
The side pouch contains me now, a confessional of sorts,
filled with Hershey bars and Hallmark cards, grabbed,
discount from your morning gig at Bigsbies drugstore.
These mementos, ones I usually tuck in a covert desk drawer
or simply toss aside, provide a glimpse—
"Welcome Aboard" with the ship cruising into the smiley face sun,
"Hang in There" and the dangling cat, when I’ve threatened to quit.
"My Superman" as Clark Kent disrobes in a phone booth,
and "Always on My Mind" signed with an arrow through the heart.
The faucet in the shower stall weeps to a fixed beat, you seize
me by the hips, guide me over the moldy cement to the grungy
utility room. Mops, upside-down and erect, line the walls like stickman
Rastafarians with Clorox and vomit breath. Your grip betrays
as you hang on to me like a crutch. Clamped tight—
we contort like snakes in a box.