Crisp and Clear
By Pallavi Narayan
This room smells of my mother’s care.
Of time and and sun and lemon cleaner.
The room has been around a long time
much before my family moved into this house.
On first sight, it seemed dreary, faded, heavy
with dark panelled bookcases. It would have
fallen down on one, that room, like that.
In my mind, I was always propping up
the shelves with my head that was filled
to bursting with words, words that I
daren’t articulate for fear of fatherly reprisal.
Dismissed already in my head, harried
women cleaning and spreading fresh sheets
pulling the corners tight, I rushing to my haven,
the room, in the dark light of quotidian dream.
Ream and ravel, scour, sluice and swab
Eviscerate all with the strength of a mop.
And then the renovation, and the room
in appreciation of even itself. How dainty,
so gleaming, but now the floor of wood
polish and wax, buff, sheen and glaze
shrieks and screeches if touched by water at all.
Delightful, and subtle now, to hide in,
but unnaturally unpleasurable to un-clean.
The help is cleaning, always mopping in my head
knocking at the door and creaking it open a crack
like the room that smells of my mother’s care.