Something is wrong if my lover leaves a sink full of dirty dishes
undone. My lover is the type that can’t relax until the garbage disposal’s
clotted throat sings a pure note. Back when we had separate apartments,
the first thing he would notice when he came over were the crusted plates
and blotted spoons spilling over the stained-steel lip of my sink
to mingle with the crumbs littering the splotched countertops.
He had to sit on his hands the rest of the night so they would not detach
from his wrists and start tidying my tiny kitchen. Then we moved in together,
and still it is not uncommon for me to wake from a movie I fell asleep watching
to find him at his post – even if it’s 3am. No matter how I plead with him
to just let the pots soak until morning, he never does. As a kid, my father
all but forced the chore upon me. Would stand me in front of the sink
stacked with dirtied ceramic for hours if that’s what it took to clear them all.
And the worst part – dipping my hand beneath the water’s murky depths
to pull the plug from the drain, bits of food prodding my bare fingers
with their slimy fish mouths. When Dad wasn’t looking, I’d pack the dishwasher
well past its maximum capacity. When he caught me (and he always caught me)
his hissed, “lazy!” was a wound-up wet rag to my pride, beating it soggy.
I watch my lover soap the frying pan by hand like he’s baptizing a baby
and I am reminded of my father’s lesson. And I wonder how two people
as diligent in their domestic duties as my parents let the years pile up
between them without noticing – a swaying tower of unresolved conflict
balanced atop a single serrated edge. Luckily it’s not in my lover’s nature
to let things sit, leave things unfinished. And I would rather gargle dishwater
than go to bed angry. I hope we never get lazy with this love.
Clear the clutter as it comes. Never give the grime a chance to build.
May we always find the courage to look our filth in the eye. May we sleep at night
with the kind of peace of mind between us that is and only can be described
as an empty sink.
Madison Gill (she/her) is a poet from Montrose, Colorado. She received her BA in English from Colorado State University-Pueblo. She was the 2021 winner of the Cantor Prize awarded by the Telluride Arts Institute Talking Gourds Poetry Program. Author of the forthcoming chapbook Casualties of Honey (Middle Creek Publishing), her poetry has been widely published both online and in print, locally, nationally and even internationally. Her work appears in Twenty Bellows, Beyond the Veil Press, Sledgehammer Lit, Tiny Spoon, and From Whispers to Roars among others. Madison lives with her fiance and their cat in a tiny home at the foot of the San Juan Mountains. Find her on instagram @sweetmint_poet