Washing Dishes


I don’t much enjoy putting them away,
returning them to routine places, stored
where they can easily be found by her
who does the cooking, though reluctantly.
But washing them is pleasure. I mean by hand.
Not simply for the warm and ready suds,
but for the messy forks and spoons and knives,
smeared platters, scrubby pots and pans;
and dainty vessels, children’s plastic cups,
plates, bowls, and tea cups, glasses, mugs,
and all the detritus of vanished meals.
Who cares that I must pile them on the mat
to dry them, leaning plates together, balanced
with caution on small bowls, precariously
astride the counter, stealing space, unlike
the neatly ordered load so safely hid
inside the dishwasher?

Yes, that is more convenient, and, I own,
dishes get cleaner. But it’s soulless, boring,
everyday. Of course, I use it daily.

But even so I find it calmly pleasing
To clean the heavy mixing bowls and beaters
that spawned the cake, and the gigantic pan
which housed the turkey, and the dish that held
cheesy potatoes that my daughter brought.

For this is what it comes to, in the end:
I wash the dishes for all those who eat.