Housework

Once I asked myself, when was I happy?
I was looking at a February sky.
When did the light hold me and I didn’t struggle?
And it came to me, an image
of myself in a doorway, a broom in my hand
sweeping out beach sand, salt, soot,
pollen and pine needles, the last December leaves,
and mud wasps, moths, flies crushed to wafers,
and spring’s first seed husks,
and then the final tufts like down, and red bud petals
like autumn leaves—so many petals—”

from “Broom” by Deborah Digges, as published in Sleeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework
Photo by Keith McDuffee, shared under CC by 2.0

There’s a lot I could say about housework—women’s work—so long looked down upon, but I’m tired and my mind is having a tough time lately keeping up with my usual passions, tirades, and complaints. For now I’ll just say this: Today I cleaned my house, and it made me feel better. I scrubbed the bathrooms, did the laundry, swept the floor. I even made this hand sanitizing spray, which scented the kitchen with cinnamon and rosemary—warm and cheerful Christmas smells that chased away too many thoughts about why I was making it. I bustled around the small, sweet rooms of my house, where I spend almost all my time now and which I’m so grateful for, and took back the tiniest feeling of control over my life. And the light held me, and I did not struggle.

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