Poem: A Cleaning Lady

BY ROGER PAO

Janitress with Windex, how I envisionher reflection, unopened,confronting glass, not yielding to the slanting sunrisethat I surmise

could have blinded a non-morning person.When my laptop case bangs the glass door shut, her Spanishfalls silent. The womanwho once gazed at my face through the rags-on-glass

door becomes a vanishing trace that depletesinto a daily lecture repletewith solitary terms like “unjust enrichment” or “promise.” In class, I imagine that the term “promise”

must have once meant more than Black’s definition to her. In another language, she was once a creatorof promises, a bodily figurewhose bodily presence defied the US-Mexico border

that is a Border of the Imagination. I wonder if, back then, she thought her beauty and bravery would stay inevitable. Now she mastersthe vacuum, curving its plastic skeleton around leather

bean bags. In the library, its mechanically unkempt whirring annoys me,and if I was more paranoid, or sane, I would claimthat the furious noise is a protest against having her name

excluded from my casebook. Can she tellmy casebook wants to engulf her beauty and bravery with its leather-brown hardcover, well-bound and stitched together with the law’s power?

I cannot tell. The janitressmay or may not fear the outstretched arms of the INSas she rolls her huge trash cantowards me. Though not a large woman,

she carries the physical law school on her shoulders,like the Titan Atlas -I often do not see her, because she is everywhere,ghostly yet corporeal, with our cleanliness to bear.

Roger Pao is a 2L. His poetry will appear regularly.

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