Not long ago, I was exploring my house.

I was testing the stairs to see which creaked,

Swiping fingerfuls of dust from beneath

The radiator, the bookshelf’s feet.


These taps never run dry, never

A crack in sight that can’t be filled with putty

And forgotten. Sealed easily; we stop them.

I have drunk this pool water my whole life.


Rooms: bed, bath, and dining, I find are

Known like the back of my hand.

Known the way they’d be known if you were

Sweating down the barrel of a gun,

Commanded to recite the exact back

Of your hand, tell us where each vein lies

Where each freckle darkens you

Don’t improvise.


Not so well known at all, since

I pulled back the bathroom curtain,

With an unsuspecting hand, curious

Recognizing now I was oblivious

In my own house.


Brackish blood was steeping in my shower

Gruesome putrid filth and slime, a

Wake for this life less bright than mine.

An unapproved funeral in my own home,

And unknowing, I had preserved it.


A soft plinking; teardrops my leaky faucet cried

Indoor heating, Arabian oil-eating furnace fire

Keep this disparity alive. I allowed this horror

To survive. I hesitated to admit my blame.


I gagged on the despair crawling down my windpipe

On despair: it tastes like lemon dirt, a sour spurt

Of loss of hope. A flavor I had not known before.


Wrench back this happy flower curtain, conceal

Such a mess. What place does suffering have

In my life? Just because it’s in my house?

It will continue on long after I am gone.


I long to turn away. I long to board up

The bathroom, to seal this crack

In my awareness, smother shiny putty

Shut it, quick.


But I cannot.

This home sustains me; although

I do not know it well, I need it. Although

I don’t want to believe it, I need it.

And I need my shower.


I arm myself with stiff rubber gloves to scrub

Soap and scrape bathtub, tile walls speak of

Tragedies I want to make OK. Take the pain from this

Scour it away, rinse, wipe, rub, buff, shine it away

I shine sunlight down the drain.


Beyond the bathroom, calamity extended to

My carpet floor, a pantry shelf, the crawl space, and

Places I’d not suspected misery. Now unable to

Ignore it, I accept responsibility. I see.


Not long ago, I was exploring my house.

Discovered dark, in the enlightenment

I shed in dark corners. My snakeskin from

Adam and Eve, we gained knowledge from

A bathtub. Realized we need apple trees like

We need forgiveness, not repression

Like we need to know our own home.


One thought on “Enlightenment


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