For a quarter
every week I scrubbed
your desk free of ink, returned
library books, folded your shirts
even underwear
then climbed up
the squeaky red stool
to stuff them into the top drawers
that smelled of oak and Hershey’s.

& for that quarter I made oatmeal raisin cookies
and lunch to fit in your schoolbox,
egg salad, bologna, tuna & pickles.
No sandwiches ever the same.

When I balked at the stench of socks on the floor
you said put it in writing so I wrote a letter of
poor working conditions, hours spent cleaning, organizing
the bachelor’s flat of the basement.

You promptly gave me a raise.

Now I laugh
at non repetitive lunch meals.
Can hardly do the laundry, shopping,
the picking-up all over of the piles,
Can’t think of doing all that, again, for a man.

At a decade older than me
You were my first and most important boss.
You nicknamed me “Tool”
though then, I never understood why.