This Life

When I was a child I did not
think that I would have so much food
I would throw some of it away.

So much water pours in a clear stream
from the faucet, I let it run
for ten minutes, twenty minutes

when I take a bath. I do not know
the place the water comes from
and I do not see where it is going.

I just say, Water, for me.
How did it come to this?
Clothes hang in the closet

and I do not wear them, but spring
and fall I clean them and put them
away in large boxes and

bring out the others I also do not wear.
It takes work, all this wasting.
It takes up my time. As a child

I never thought I would grow
to possess waste
with such an implacable need,

to define home as a place
where the unused and unneeded
are stored, where water and food

go down the drain, into the garbage.
I polish the faucets as if cleaning
were an atonement, but atonement for a sin

I do not feel the terror of. It is my duty
to get the sink clean. Meanwhile the moths
eat holes in the saved woolen jacket,

the cotton dresses smell faintly
of last summer's sweat, and that
innocent girl and her childhood,

in which she believed adults always
had enough, are lost amid storage boxes
and sewers. Maybe all along

the point is to lose her, her trust no salvation
to the compulsions of a wasting life,
her broken heart what I am wasting away.


Published in Blue Sofa Review