Cleaning Anthony’s Apartment

CLEANING ANTHONY’S APARTMENT

Before spring, near Grimsby, ditches run clean like trout streams,
Our vines are gray. They will be pink next, like flushed, excited skin.
In March there is the flatness that is a big part of trouble.
Anthony’s sisters are helping him scrub his apartment.

He was sick all winter. They raise his laughter like neighbours raise a burned out barn.
He had made a good start. The therapy.
He says now, “I wasn’t so much sick as sad all the time.”
The pills ended the depression. You can wish that life was never mechanical.

Smell of hot vinegar in the coffee-maker, smells of pine oil and beer.
Brock University jackets, damp curly hair, his sisters
Wiping their hands on sweatshirts, the open window,
His bedroom. Anthony clears books from the sills and cleans and shines the windows.
There are wicker baskets for their picnic and for his laundry.

I always wanted to know, what is consecration?
(Here is a scrap of his poetry:
“… panties the colour of a driftwood campfire.”)
His sisters laugh to think of a girl in the apartment.
The dirty clothes are gone. He’s got clean denims and hiking boots.

Laughter, beer and young music,
Bread and stew and pickles and heavy brown two liter bottles of beer
On the white wooden kitchen table where he hopes to write.
His father’s pickup truck is in the yard, its bed full of garbage.

With cleaning any good thing can happen. The sisters feel it too.
I didn’t know what consecration meant. They joked
That he could have a girl up there when they were done.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson

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