18 August 2010

More to Clean

There is a room in the house, a room unused for days at a time.  The house itself larger now than it was then in those flush days of cheerfully made decisions.  "Salad days" the old-timers call them.  The man shuffles his way through another empty room to stand in the doorway of the hollow/not hollow space.  He holds a small book and a sleeved CD in one hand, the other hand massages his temples.  The man pauses and considers that the salad days are over, if they ever were, and the space he would have eaten in contains no furniture.

The salad days are over.  The rain stopped coming for visits, and the creek beds are sere and forlorn.

To say that the room is empty would be a misnomer.  To say that it is desolate is true, in the same way that mesas in the desert appear desolate.  Tortured terrain, dry, sun-baked and littered with rocks.  The room has a single bookcase, the only representative of the species furniture.  The floor is crowded with a few boxes, but mostly stacks of books and magazines awaiting a home.  Mesas of paper populating a desert of unrealized hopes and wishes.

The floor is faintly gray under an irregular patchwork of thin dust.  The man sighs and reminds himself to clean it.  He swallows hard on a weak bittersweet backwash of plans and predictions that he once mistook for certainty.  The dust had no place in the original scenario, it was unnecessary, it would have not collected because the room would have been thrumming with activity.  There would have been music, and the unpredictable squeaks of the office chair.  Light would have poured through the windows, providing light to match the strength of the creative ferment arising from the occupant and books and computer.

He sighs and forces himself to cross the room.  The scrape of his feet on the wood floor is loud in the silence, accompanied by reverb off the plaster walls and ceiling.  Diffracted through the venetian blinds, a faint glow of cloud-swathed sunlight trickles weakly through the tree out side and washes the room in pastel luminance.  A bird warbles softly, which makes the man long for a home that is complete.  A nest, safe and dry.

The man places the CD and book on the top shelf, and tries to ignore the piles of books.  He avoids looking into the far corner.  There may be a phantom, there, the wispy outline of a desk that may never be.  A desk, the man reminds himself, he was counting on to provide a port in the storm of his life.

There is room in the house, mostly unused, and he avoids spending time there.  Keeping the door closed on memory and desire is a strenuous job, but necessary.  The house is bigger than it looked, and emptier, than it was in those salad days.  It holds dreams there, and desires, but rarely is there enough energy to clean.

Tomorrow, he says, I'll dust.


  1. I hope he will open up the doors and windows and let more of that beautiful light in, filling the space with light might be just what he needs.

  2. Good... then send him over to my house to dust. It's getting thick enough in here to write my name!

  3. Sweet Jesus! I knew I never liked salad!

  4. don't clean dust...celebrate it...it is the glitter of time, if you see dust you are still alive, hallelujah! So don't lament it! get a desk in there, and a boom box, and bring it back to life, man@

  5. "...and the creek beds are sere and forlorn." Lovely. Barren and dry and simply lovely.

  6. Tomorrow is another a day...and the dust will still be there. It will be waiting for you when you're ready to clean it.

  7. Good writing, really enjoyed it.

  8. Sad that the house is empty now. Maybe it is time to fill it up with something new and happy. Salad days can come again you know.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...