Friday, June 3, 2022

an announcement of sweeping gratitude

With three days in a row above 90* this week (reminding us that yep, global warming is a thing) it feels well past spring here in the DC area. But a heroic amount of cull and clean-out has been happening both at my house (chimney rebuild, interior & exterior painting) and in my classroom as I excavate (like ripping off my actual skin) 34 years of classroom contents.

And later today, I will share in a retirement celebration with Ms. Alice Hall, who has been a Building Services Worker--cleaning classrooms including mine--for every one of those same 34 years. I bow in awe and thanks for her service to children and teachers.

It is in this context that I tackled Molly's challenge to the Inklings this month.  She says, "Year after year, I turn my back on spring cleaning, so I thought it might be fun to write a poem about some sort of domestic task. (Writing a poem = way more fun than cleaning!)"

Please meet our cleaner and friend, Monica.


   Ode to Monica

Her clockwork regularity,

her infinite flexibility!

The way, most weeks, 

I do not even see her

and yet her magic aka hard work

abides in our abode. 


or should I say HarMonica, for

the multiple notes you play in

one breath upon each room, for

your steady alternating rhythm

upstairs, downstairs and in my lady’s

chamber? I am no lady, I am no

Tidy Clean Heidi Jean, until you

bring your harmony of Clean to my

slapdash melody of Tidy. You have

spared our family 20 years of buzzing

infrasonic disharmony.


I can cook, I can garden, I can 

accomplish multiple volunteerisms; 

I can plan the heck out of a week 

of school–but that one year in France 

I spent way more time planning how 

to clean our apartment than I spent

actually cleaning it.


I cannot descale my own teeth, 

I cannot scope my own colon, 

and I can. not. clean. my own house,

no matter the model of respectable

Puritan godliness I grew up with.

My guilt still buzzes, but the work you do 

with deftness and fortitude, with 

thoroughness but not perfection, 

keeps me humble, hopeful, brings

me psychic safety every day. 


our needs and gifts stand in sweeping

complementarity; we pay money, of course,

but service as well. When there has been ill

to contend with we have asked and 

received of each other, cared for each 

other's children, time and health, and 

due to you we've been calmer, stronger,

cleaner, for you are our Cleaner, 


draft ©HM 2022


Can't wait to see how my fellow Inklings addressed the challenge--usually we've seen some versions of some poems before, but this time we haven't met recently enough for that.

Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche 

Catherine @ Reading to the Core 

Linda @ A Word Edgewise 

Mary Lee @ Another Year of Reading


It is not a joke, not an exaggeration, to say that this blog exists thanks to Monica. I wish you all whatever assistance brings you the psychic safety you need to carry on writing, to do the work of your heart.


  1. It's a saving grace to have someone so dear and talented as your dear Monica, Heidi. You've written a lovely song of praise for her!

  2. Oh, my gosh...what a woman this Monica is! To be able to provide this service is truly a talent beyond dollars. I think a "Monica" can keep a good marriage going. I have a "Sandra" and we are languishing here as she's in Puerto Rico for a...vacation! Her wonderful children gifted her a trip to PR for Mother's Day. But, oh do I miss her! Thanks for this wonderful tribute--I can tell it was way more fun than actual cleaning!

  3. Thank goodness for Monica! And all the Monicas everywhere who work with "deftness and fortitude" to keep our homes clean! A lovely tribute, Heidi!

  4. Monica must love this! Such a clever crafting of words. (And time so much better spent than dreaded cleaning, if that is not your talent! (And it is not mine!!))

  5. God bless Monica and your gratitude for her.

  6. Monica! I love her for what she has meant to your school and to you. I hope you gave her this poem. And I hope the "ripping of your skin" heals with a fortitude to sustain your next great adventure in this life.

  7. What a boon to have someone like Monica in your life! This is a perfect response to the prompt. I love how we've taken it in oh-so-many directions!

  8. Three cheers for Monica! Or even better, a terrific ode! :)


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!