Rent to Own
His days are spent hunched on bad knees
cleaning durable microfiber, generic,
rent-to-own living room sets
covered with juice stains, pen marks,
blood from a knife wound, smelling
of urine, human or otherwise.
You’d be surprised how many people
pick their noses and leave the evidence
under the arm of an armchair, he tells me.
Roaches, bed bugs, pet hair, dander—
you name it, it’s there, in the fibers,
the polyester pillows and dense cushions.
Steam vapor removes almost anything,
even tar from a chaise owned by a guy
who works at an asphalt company,
working his ass off in ten-hour shifts
to afford his slice of America.
What lies beneath is a mutiny
of forgotten cheese curls, Cracker Jacks,
paper clips, socks, hot dogs, barrettes,
crayons, condoms, needles.
He is a priest keeping secrets
for the sex worker’s love seat,
or the sectional repossessed
the day before Thanksgiving.
They think it’s theirs but know it not,
and treat it as such, without permanence.
Still, it will go on to fit someone else’s
wide bottom or skinny hips
just like new, gently used.
And this work that makes
the back crack and muscles ache,
this salvation in salvage
is a dirty job that someone has to do.