“Cleaning House” by Ed Galing

Ed Galing


i finally got up the courage to do
what i should have done four
years ago
when she died after so many
years of living together;
there comes a time
when you find yourself
living what seems to
be way too long;
early years when you both couldn’t
get enough of each other
and dated and went to
the quarter movie house to
see fred astaire and ginger
rogers, and held
hands in the movie house,
and i always tried to put my hand down
her ample bosom to
grab a breast in the
dark, but
never quite made it;
and she always knew
i was aiming for
it, but made
believe it wasn’t
happening, and gently
pushed my hand away;
the times when after
we married the
kid woke up in
the middle of the
night, and
i got so damn tired
and angry at him screaming
that i smacked his ass;
and she left me after
that, but came back
later, she had only
gone to her
parents’ house
around the corner,
and i knew it, and the next
day went over there,
and brought her home,
and we both cried, and i
asked her to forgive
things like that;
so when she died
i was too overcome to
listen to condolences
i just wanted to die
and i moved my
bedroom down
to the ground floor
and didn’t ever want
to go upstairs again
where we had made
love in that bed so
long ago
and where all her clothes
were still hanging in
the closet as if never
all this time,
but now i have done
the goodwill people
called me and asked
if i had any clothes
to give away
so many people
all over the world
needing things
a pair of shoes
a dress
a blanket
overseas the tsunamis
and people homeless
and tornados and
towns wiped out
they all were living
and needed help
so i told goodwill
i would leave a large
pack of clothes outside
the front door
and i went upstairs
and it was dark there
and it had an odor
like in a funeral parlor
and i felt as if i was
in some kind of
supernatural place
as if clouds were
as if she was still
and opened the closet
and for the first time
in four years
saw her red dress
she had worn on our
grandson’s wedding
the white suit
she wore down at
atlantic city
all hanging in neat
waiting to be worn
and so many pairs of slacks
and sweaters
and handbags
and i began to cry as i
stuffed them into
the plastic bag
stuffed them in angrily
because i hated
giving them away
our old times
our happy times
the clothes like
a hot fire burning
into my trembling
stuffed the damn
stuff in there
and took them
outside on the
for goodwill
i kept thinking
she wouldn’t mind
me giving away her
clothes now
so others could live
but it didn’t help
as i sat in my
recliner downstairs
all alone
rocking up
and back
trying to forget

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012


Ed Galing: “Almost all of my poetry is based on my own experiences in life. As I get older, it becomes more important to record those episodes that move me so much that I must write them down. If others are also moved by my poems, I am overjoyed.”

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