Spring Cleaning

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When I was young, I always loved the stories where the characters may not have had much, but their house was sparkling clean, their clothes neatly mended, and their garden tilled, weeded, and supported as needed. Sadly, admiration doesn’t always translate to imitation. Cleaning is not my thing. When my children were young and saw me pull out the vacuum cleaner they immediately asked, “Who’s coming over?” This was a pretty accurate assessment of the situation.

I love having a clean home, but I’m not much on maintenance cleaning–it just isn’t a priority. It gets downright dirty around here sometimes. I feel bad about it. But not quite bad enough to rectify it or to put down my book (or my writer’s notebook, or my glass of wine…).  And spring cleaning? Do people really still do that? I mean that intensive wall-washing, curtain-washing, cabinet-scrubbing crazed top-to-bottom house cleaning?

Ellen Taylor, a Maine poet, tackles this topic in her poem, Spring Cleaning ,and though I may not be a cleaning goddess, Taylor’s poem resonates. There is something deeply satisfying about the click and clack of grit whirling down the vacuum cleaner hose. And I’ll let you in on a little secret– cleaning is especially satisfying when there’s a good supply of dust bunnies, dirt and debris to disappear and you can make visible progress!
Spring Cleaning

By Ellen M. Taylor

Why are there no poems of the joy
of vacuum cleaning after a long
winter? Of the pleasure of pulling
the couch back, sucking up cobwebs, dead
flies, candy cane wrappers, cookie crumbs?
The sun rises earlier now, flooding
the room with daffodil light, enough
to see long unseen clumps of dog hair,

 (Read the rest by clicking on the title.)

stars beneath your bed.jpg
Soon after enjoying this poem, I read April Pulley Sayre’s Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust, to my class. Pulley poetically explores the origins of dust–“Dust can be bits of unexpected things-“– and its timelessness –“Old dust stays around.”
images.jpgThis tickled my imagination and combined with Taylor’s poem to inspire me to rethink dust and dusting and to write this poem.

Dusting

The dust on my floors
has been stirred
by the feet of dinosaurs,
the leaping of gazelles and
the sweet shuffle of footie pj’s
in the early morning
on chilly winter days.

When I sweep the floor
and make the dust fly,
I stir up a tornado
of particles and pollens,
and pharaohs dance with dodos
in a temporary tango.

Scales from a butterfly’s wing,
a stray piece
from a comet’s streaking tail,
or fragments of skin-kissed skin
from my once-upon-a-time-toddlers

accumulate atop the old wooden table,
where once my grandparents dined,
and coat the lightbulbs
in the hallway chandelier.

With duster in hand,
I wipe away the remnants,
sneezing stardust,
and marvel
that 
our history
is writ through dust,
as is that of the universe.
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Cosmic.
Historic.
Mundane.
Transcendent.

Molly Hogan (c) 2016

images-2.jpg

If you’re interested in reading more poetry, Laurie Purdie Salas is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

 

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13 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning

  1. Tabatha says:

    I love that you put together a whole post on dust! Poetry is everywhere. Your second stanza is fun to read aloud 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love those poems. I also miss “the sweet shuffle of footie pi’s”. My heart feels full just remembering that one sound. Makes me want to spring clean. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Molly, this is just wonderful. That tango! The light bulbs. The magic. And I love April’s Stars Beneath Your Bed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. katswhiskers says:

    My favourite part of this post is your absolute honesty at the start. Because there is always comfort in knowing you are not alone… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. maryleehahn says:

    I love everything about this post! Your second paragraph could be ME talking!! Love APSayre’s dust book. Lovelovelove your poem! Solidarity in lackluster housecleaning!!

    Like

  6. mbhmaine says:

    Thanks so much! It’s nice to know others are in the same boat! I’m hoping my wonderings about dust will inspire me to dust off my duster and set some dust flying around here! But I’m not holding my breath…

    Like

  7. jama says:

    Thoroughly wonderful post. You’re right about that satisfying feeling of hearing things being sucked up by the vacuum cleaner. I’m not familiar with April’s book, but love how it inspired you to write such wondrous things about dust and dusting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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