Tuesday May 21

AnandaLima Ananda Lima’s work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Rattle, The Offing, Public Pool, Origins and other publications. She has an MA in Linguistics from UCLA, was selected for the AWP Writer to Writer Program, and has attended workshops at Bread Loaf, Sewanee and Tin House. Ananda has taught at UCLA, the Montclair State University and elsewhere. As of 2017, she will return to Sewanee to serve as staff. She is currently working on a full-length poetry collection centered on immigration and motherhood in America.

Cleaning the Colonial

You were once so foreign to me
the rattling and whistling of the radiator
the nooks and cracks collecting dust
your wooden body lacking
in concrete, so prone to burning
your exterior covered with scales
Now I kneel
and place
a damp cloth on your skirting
I push into your grooves with my fingers
following them until the end
of the wall
when the cloth is covered
with the lines drawn
by your moldings

I wonder if you have forgiven me
for coming here
and ignoring the contrast
of your trims
despite the protest
of painting professionals
and the prescription
of more experienced parents
I headed
to Home Depot
and made all your surfaces
but I hope you see
the beauty
of this light you let in
through your windows
when you amplify
its reflection
from within

I have also neglected the understanding
that you are meant to be filled
with figurines and tassel
an inherited empire
with its claw clinging to hand
woven rugs
that your crooked golden chandelier
is supposed to hover above
a solid
dining table

I have kept you mostly bare
I assure you this spareness is not
for your deprivation
or to expose your many
Part of it is that I find you
too beautiful to be hidden
part of it is an attempt
to replicate in you
the unadorned spaces
from the faraway place
that formed me

You see, once I realized
sometime ago that
the crown
emphasizing your front door
was purely decorative
that in spite
of having seen so many façades
similar to yours on tv
I didn’t know you
and my love for you then
became more

Now I complain as I try to grapple
with the muck stuck within
the grid
of the radiator
or within the depths
of the oven
you note that most of my work
is on my own mess
and remind me of my progeny’s
crayon, and the scratches
caused by my cheap self-assembly
I retort that the damage
that predates me
is deeper, more disagreeable
more difficult to address
and I continue to clean
and you continue to uphold
your unmovable frame

But notwithstanding
our differences
I lovingly sweep your strange
wooden floors in the kitchen
I occupy your hollow rooms
and populate them with private song
I realize that now, or soon
no one alive will know you
better than I do

By now we understand
you don’t really belong
to me
and I don’t really belong
but we have come to accept
that our histories have commingled
and as I do my best
to scrub your stains
I imagine my son
grown, inhabiting
another place
feeling cold
for your concrete
counterparts I crave
always wishing
for you