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Home / Issue 36 / Household Gods

Household Gods

By Susanna Lang

It is still summer but the heat has eased
and plane trees have started to drop
their leaves, clenched into dry fists.
A man bends over a rake in front
of his house, shaded all season:
he doesn’t believe in waiting
till all have fallen, doesn’t believe
that leaf mold will nourish his garden.
He pauses only to wish me good morning
before turning back to his observance
of order and cleanliness. Inside, I’m sure
he has cleared the webs from each room.

My own household gods have lowered
their expectations. Why sweep
when spiders keep spinning, and leaves
continue to fall? I used to get down
on my hands and knees to clean under
radiators for my mother’s visits, but now
she’s gone and I never fooled her. She still
called out the dust bunnies scampering
across my floors. When the leaves fall,
I’ll walk through their rustling heaps, listen
for their voices—there are other gods
to honor through all the year’s cycles.

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