Woman with Mop and Bucket

She’s smocked in blue, like peasants by Millet
at work, a crook or pail in hand, or bent,
perhaps, for sewing, nursing, sheaving hay,
their faces worn by pity and consent.

The airport crowds have atomized by now;
the loos are nearly empty. There, alone,
she traces arcs, a model showing how
it’s done—left, right, ahead—as if to hone

her gestures as a dance routine. She sings,
a thread that rises, falls, and floats.
The words are muffled. Might her voice give wings
to home thoughts, in its melancholy notes?

I speak to her in English; no reply,
no recognition. I use Spanish then;
she’s pensive, unaware. So should I try
my Creole French? But no; to speak again

would seem interrogation. Does she see
me, even, leaning as she swirls her mop?
She is the body of the melody,
its mute existence when the song must stop.

From Aerosols, Catharine Savage Brosman, Green Altar / Shotwell Publishing © 2023. Used with the permission of the author.