The coffee cups we take into the sanctuary
she sees as spots to scrub from the carpet later.
On youth night she braces herself
for toilets plugged with paper towel
sinks clogged with toilet paper.
The inconspicuous, numberless door
in the hallway we’ve never really noticed—
she has the key to it
could find Pinesol, rolls of tissue
jugs of antibacterial soap and Windex
without stumbling over the industrial octopus
that splays its floppy hoses
all over the floor.
She knows who ambles in
bleary-eyed and tousle-headed
for prayer on Tuesday morning at 6:00
and on her 1:00 p.m. round remembers
to check between sofa cushions in the café
for crunched napkins and balls of plastic wrap.
On Alpha night she is there with her bucket
to clean up kitchen spills and bathroom floods.
After the funeral tea she appears out of nowhere
to deal with the overflowing garbage.
She comes with her key anytime to unlock any door.
Always kind, smiling, cheerful helpful, willing
she is the servant of all.
She is the greatest of all!
– Violet Nesdoly (© 2013 – All Rights Reserved)
So far my Poem-A-Day challenge has been going well. The poem above was yesterday’s write, inspired by Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides prompt for Day 6:
“For today’s prompt, write a poem from the perspective of a person who either works at and/or visits a place you like to visit (that’s not yourself). For instance, a fry chef at the Krusty Krab, a bouncer at a nightclub, waitress at a restaurant, etc.”
This post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane Mayr at Random Noodling.
November 8, 2013 at 1:52 am
That’s a wonderful tribute, Violet. Great one for Thanksgiving.
November 8, 2013 at 5:18 am
Good for you for taking on the challenge! If “The Custodian” is any indication, you’re going to have a productive month! Keep going!
November 8, 2013 at 6:27 am
Wonderful. Great details, enjoyed inhabiting her world for a bit.
November 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm
A lovely poem/story! There are those who do the work we don’t want to do, and you’ve just paid homage to one of them, Violet. So skillful at their work that we don’t notice the skill until it’s not done. I love your new website, must not have been here in a while-beautiful! And congrats on your poem a day!
November 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm
Thank you Catherine, Diane, Jama and Linda! I have noticed the quiet efficiency of our church’s custodians for a while now so this little tribute is overdue! Thanks for the comment about the website, Linda. I read too many how-to-blog posts about the difficulty of reading white print on black so decided to consider everyone’s eyes 🙂
November 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm
Your poem is filled with details and description. I remember being at a talk about writing and medicine. An attendee stood up and talked about how the janitors at hospitals are so invisible in literature, but are crucial to everyone’s health. Your poem reminded me of that comment.
November 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm
Thanks Laura. That’s an interesting observation–that janitors are invisible in literature. It’s easy to take them for granted, I guess, until they aren’t there! Actually there are many jobs like that–conspicuous only when not done well or not done at all.
Robyn Hood Black
November 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm
Terrific, Violet. I love the key imagery, mentioned twice… much to ponder and appreciate here!
November 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm
Thanks, Robin! I actually noticed that “key” repetition… it’s one of those things that just happened, but I think it was meant to be. Custodians are ‘key’ in many ways, aren’t they?
November 9, 2013 at 6:37 am
A fabulous tribute. When you’re not busy writing a poem a day, you should read HOUND DOG TRUE. It features another fabulous custodian!
November 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm
Thank you, Mary Lee. I’ve looked up Hound Dog True and will put it on my ‘to read’ list. 🙂
November 10, 2013 at 3:03 am
Your poem is spot on. Custodians are the best!
November 10, 2013 at 8:09 am
I love: “she has the key to it.” Yes, exactly.