How to Clean Practically Anything

by Jennifer O'Grady

Yes, housework can be a chore

A day, a day rinsed free of night

everyone enjoys a clean and orderly home

a table wiped clear of crumbs and spills

the best way to do the maximum amount

of work, without becoming overwhelmed

floor swept, dustpan emptied into plastic

bags which are placed inside sealed metal cans

is to perform it in a systematic fashion

dishwasher emptied, opaque and stainless

blot the stain, wipe away any residue

whites now sorted, his socks, his shirts

old egg-yolk yellow under the arms

try these to ensure results

reward your efforts:

his underwear, the boxers faded and frayed

repeating their pattern of angular hearts

be sure to remove any hooks or weights

their scattered and miniature x's and o's

openings measured for admission or exit

don't overload the machine, and remember

his colors tangling in a tossed-off pile

of mostly darks, mostly black and blues

fabric becomes much heavier when wet

while here and there a spring green

a tremulous yellow

protect from strong sunlight

and abrasive objects

a newborn pink, streak

of surprisingly deep red

warning: damages may not be covered

like fresh blood, a raw and unsutured cut

try a product that claims to hide

surface scratches

to be rinsed and wrung, dried and folded and piled

into the thing we call a long marriage

if the marks have darkened

use a sharp knife

these daily removals, these many attempts

to wipe clean the counter the table the slate

if the burn is deep use filler

smoothing it to match the surface

the windows now free of fingerprints and smears

as if there were no glass no barrier no space

work carefully to avoid

damaging the paint

in which to revisit your own faint reflection

this coating should last for years

please note: art by Jean-Edouard-Vuillard


  1. A marriage deserves at least as much attention as the rest of our lives. Sometimes it feels like a chore, but if you've been at least partially attentive, the outcome can be worth the effort.


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