The Cleaner

Everything appeared tidy, organized,
each item in its proper place,
but when I took a closer look at
a lamp, a painting, or even a coffee table book,
there was a thin coating of dust
you could pick up on your fingers.

Searching the house, I found in a hall closet
a vacuum cleaner, buckets, mops, and brooms,
cleaning supplies in a cabinet beneath the kitchen sink,
so while he’d apparently wanted
the appearance of neatness, order, he’d not
been able to upkeep the other side of the coin,
the cleanliness that should accompany it.

I stood over the toilet, noticed that the bowl
needed scrubbing, and I touched the gritty tank lid surface,
leaving a smudged fingerprint in the grime
the image making me a little queasy,
realizing I stood in the middle of a house
that held pounds and pounds of filth covering
all its surfaces.

The doorbell rang, but he was too embarrassed to answer it.
He flushed the toilet after enough time had passed
for whoever it was to have given up and gone.
He didn’t want to admit to someone,
didn’t want  anyone to know how he lived.

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