Sometimes everything seems dirty to me.
I rush about cleaning, doing loads of laundry
as if I still had kids,
cleaning in the corners where hairy dust
clusters imply I am lax.
I change beds in the playroom,
plump up pillows, put tinker toys away
in their faded, cracked blue box
and even wipe their t.v. screen, the cloth
comes back completely black.
That’s how I know that everything is dirty.

At other times I work at what I call my work.
And if everything is dirty, I don’t care.
I’m not looking now for cleanliness, I’m looking deep,
deeper than dust
deeper than a dryer packed with sheets
deeper than pillows dented by damp and curly heads
deeper than grandchildren in their sleep.
That’s how deep I go to find what I am looking for.
– and then I dive! not cautiously, no,
but careful enough to be
on the lookout for rocks where
my head would crack like an egg.
I defy the air. I invite the pain.
I dive, I live, I breathe…
but I don’t know I do these things until I’ve finished
writing for the day.

I feel just like my mother when she’d cleaned the house,
ironed all the clothes and stacked them on the ironing board
before putting them away. Then she’d stop to have her tea.
She might have tied her hair up in a towel,
a regular Lana Turner sitting at our kitchen table,
holding her teacup in both hands surveying all she’d done.
And then she’d say “This probably doesn’t look like much
to you but I’ve accomplished miracles today.”