The Sweepers

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Mother sweeps every morning
And brushes her hair before bed
Every night

She makes it so
Each day starts out clean
Of debris under our feet

And each night
Before we sleep
All the tangles
Are worked out
For us in the yellow
Light of her vanity mirror

It does have its place
Polishing, perfecting the poisonous
She charms the snake
Of wisdom under her skin

My mother sweeps
She brushes her hair
She polishes her teeth
She feeds us
Plays with us
Teaches us
Everything we need to know
About life in a single day
My mother sweeps
Every morning
Clearing the static between us
And our grounding
She brushes
She polishes
She shines
My father says,
“When Mother is happy, everyone is happy.”

On my favorite days
She shines up the silver
Until she sees herself in it
She shows us how
To handle it
Without leaving our own
Fingerprints
Behind

She tells us stories
About how old they are
Where they came from
That they have always belonged
To us
How each one of them
Has its own
Incredible story

She advises us
How valuable they are
That our grandparents’ grandparents
Carried them for us
How one day we will carry them too
How we will cherish them then

How we must be gentle
When we handle them
And move slowly
Using both hands to lift
Them back up
Into the high glass
Cabinet
Where they preside
Over that
Sacred space
Where we eat

We were allowed
To put them up
But she was the only one
In charge of bringing them down

My mother taught us about
Handling all things in this way
That people are
Tarnished
Through no fault
Of their own
But that the elements
We’re all made of are
Prone to attract
Other elements

That the way we touch
Others can leave
Marks
Behind

That polishing silver
Requires time, patience
And a knack for getting IN
To tight spaces

That no matter
How much we wanted
The silver to be clean
It wouldn’t be
Unless we made it
So ourselves

My mother made it so
It was very clear
Our only job
Was cleaning
Polishing and lifting
By ourselves

That time
And the other forces
Would do the rest
For us
That the rest
Was not our concern
Until it was time
And we were old enough

To tie our own shoes
Help with the dishes
Learn to neatly fold
The tiny, tiny
Shirts of the baby
While mama handled
The giant awkward
Grown-up coverings

To do all the things
That must be done
With grace and humility

To reach that height
Where we can see
Our selves
In the mirror
Without her lifting
Us up

The moment
We learn
To lift
Ourselves up

Put our own children to sleep
Find the brush
And make it so
We never go to bed
With a messy head

silverboy

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on “The Sweepers
6 Comments on “The Sweepers

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