Keeping Busy – A Poem By Carol J Forrester

The bins have been emptied,
their silver bellies lined
and sprayed to quell the stink
from last week’s puddling condensation
tack dried at the base.
In the background the washing thumps,
thuds, thunks,
throws itself around drum wet
and clinging,
till the spin cycle sticks it tight
to the very edge of a whining whirl.
Clementine clouds each counter,
cloth swept of crumbs
so they shine when the clouds part,
sun splitting through the grey
and spilling onto the tiles,
knuckled into a gleam on hands and knees,
so your face stares back up at me
tight lipped and furious,
about to speak till the sponge cuts you off.
I can soap over those features
but eventually it all dries out
and there you are watermarked
sprawled across this floor,
elbows and knees against the tiles,
and the dishwasher bleeping
that it is time.

Tonight’s DVerse Challenge is to focus on adding a ‘turn’ or a ‘window’ into our poem. I’ll admit my focus has drifted slightly at the end of this, as something keeps beeping down in the kitchen and investigation is probably in order.

31 Comments

  1. Such vivid descriptions of cleaning tasks–and your comment at the end made me laugh about the the ordinary and every day intrudes, even as we write about it.

    1. Someone else commented on how ‘real’ the tasks seemed. Mostly because they are the very real tasks I was putting off that day. Turns out the beeping wasn’t from the kitchen, the husband was doing something techy and that was the source of the noise.

  2. Day-to-day supernatural. This just blew me away, Carol, starting with the stink, moving through the new sunshine to the ethereal face, scowling, ready to scream until it’s drowned out by the dishwasher’s rinse cycle. Turn, turn, turn.. Perfecto!

  3. My goodness this is beyond gorgeous, Carol! 💝💝 I love; “Clementine clouds each counter, cloth swept of crumbs so they shine when the clouds part, sun splitting through the grey and spilling onto the tiles.” You have such a way with words 😀

  4. Terrific piece Carol – there’s a whole genre of domestic chores poetry – which are (often/always) about something else – and I reckon the trick is to make the chores real – as you have here with the washer and particularly the floor washing (that reminds me -🙂) wonderful imagery of the furious face staring back at the poet – a mother? an angry nun? the poet herself? And always there’s the poet, idling away looking out the window at the beautiful sky being tidied itself.

    1. I sometimes steer away from domestic poetry because it’s so often considered the realm of female poets, but I’ll dip in now and again. As for making the chores real, I just went through the list of things I was suppose to have got done that day but hadn’t quite managed to get round to lol. I’m glad you enjoyed the poem.

  5. Ditto to previous comments, especially
    ‘knuckled into a gleam on hands and knees,
    so your face stares back up at me
    tight lipped and furious,
    about to speak till the sponge cuts you off.’

  6. Your poem has come to me at the right time, Carol! It’s been a week of trying to keep the house clean and tidy with my still furloughed (until Monday) husband under my feet, messing up the worktops and dripping stuff into the bin! And then our Henry died a spectacular death with smoke and toxic fumes. I love the down-to-earth-ness of your poem, the hint of satisfaction in the ‘silver bellies’ of the bins and the thumping of the washing, and the shining counters when the clementine clouds part. I also love the way the face ‘tight lipped and furious’ is juxtaposed with the bleep of the dishwasher.

    1. Ah, my husband is a serial offender for emptying his pockets out on freshly cleaned surfaces. My condolences on your Henry, we have a hetti and she’s such a trooper, even when we asking her to clear up builders dust from the new windows.

  7. Thank you for your poem of domesticity! I didn’t realise until I read Peter’s comment that there is a whole genre of poems on this subject. It makes perfect sense. What I despise about domestic chores is that my mind always wants to be somewhere else…composing poetry, mainly. I love the apparition in the tiles at the end – a lovely supernatural touch!

    1. Domestic chores have always been a good outlet for stress for me. I think it’s because there are so many little tasks that you can complete as you go along. When everything else feels a bit out of control, you can at least take the bins out, or set the next load of washing going.

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