Watching the street cleaner scoop up paper cups and faded wrappers, one smooth sweep of his long-handled dust pan, I remember when I cleaned houses and gas stations and grocery stores for a living. And I realize I can no longer do those things. I have lost the skills. I have developed new skills to replace them: teaching, wordsmithing, critical reading, scholarly insight. But the zen of the mop bucket, the dance of broom over dust and tile, the gymnastics of heaving trash into Dumpsters — these skills are mine no more. How I admire the man out there in my street who so blithely swings the dust pan like a clock pendulum, the gentle lift of the refuse into the rolling bin, the arc of his arm and the poetry of his stride.
Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown
I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin. View more posts