Taking Out the Trash
Someone else used to do this before.
someone who loved me enough
to protect me from my own filth
But I’m over 40 now & live alone,
& if I don’t remember it's Thursday
& rise with the cardinals & bluejays
calling up the sun, I’m stuck
with what’s left rotting
for another week.
I swing my legs like anchors over the side
of the bed & use the wall for leverage
to stand, shuffle to the bathroom.
In summer, I slide into a pair of shorts & flip flops,
wandering room to room to collect
what no longer serves me.
I shimmy the large kitchen bag from
the steel canister, careful not to spill
what’s inside or rip it somehow
& gross myself out.
Sometimes I double bag for insurance,
tying loose ends together,
cinching it tightly for the journey.
Still combing through webs of dreams,
of spiders’ handiwork glistening above
the wheeled container on the back patio,
I drag my refuse down the driveway
past the chrysanthemums & azaleas,
the huge Magnolia tree shading the living room
from Georgia’s heat, flattening hordes
of unsuspecting ants in my path to park it
next to the mailbox for merciful elves
to take off my hands.
It is not lost on me that one day
someone who loves me enough
will dispose of this worn, wrinkled
container after my spirit soars on.
I don’t wait to say thank you
to those doing this grueling, necessary work.
But I do stand in the young, faintly lit air
for a long moment to inhale deeply,
& like clockwork when he strides by,
watch the jogger’s strong, wet back
fade over the slight rise of the road.
"Taking Out the Trash" first appeared in the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day series.