From the corner, behind the couch,
crouching, I watched you work.
First, you scrubbed the stainless steel surfaces
with a nonabrasive cleanser
and a blue toothbrush
taking care to sweep up any loose particles
with an antibacterial sponge
as you went.
Then, you carefully vacuumed
the floor, the baseboards, the door frames,
and the cobwebs in the places where
the cobwebs would take up residence if
they stood even half a chance.
I noticed you used almost all of the attachments
including the one for crevices
and the two with bristles.
Back and forth, back and forth,
before you turned the hose back on itself,
inhaling all over the attachments themselves,
cleaning the cleaner,
so that no lint, crumbs or dog hair remained.
Then the mop, slipping around to and fro
sending strong, fragrant wafts throughout the room
and the rest of the house
as it made the surface below your feet gleam.
Finally, you double checked your lists,
and your voice mail,
lining up ducks, nudging the ducks constantly,
keeping so many things balanced just so,
kids and husband,
groceries and errands,
things to pick up, prepare or put away, arrange or discard.
It was only then, at the very end,
as you were balancing the phone
between your shoulder and ear,
that I saw the tiny protruding corner,
grey and not quite shiny:
sticking out from underneath the top edge of your bra
Hidden from the world,
beneath the thoughtfully selected blouse,
between the underthings,
and the skin, bone and muscle
that enclose your heart.
not at all attractive, not intended to be seen,
not something you'd show anyone,
and so, presumably, absolutely necessary.
I watched you take a second,
before you grabbed your keys, purse, cell phone
and some snacks for the kids
and ran out the door.