Someone else used to do this before. Someone responsible, someone who loved me enough to protect me from my own filth piling up. 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 responsible, 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.
Copyright © 2018 by Kamilah Aisha Moon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.