washing hands

there’s something sweet
and awful in it
all the stinks of life
the little bits
of everything
floating in the air

my fingertips
dirty from planting garlic
from pushing barehanded
the rotting compost
tight around
still unborn roots

now i lift them up
in the posture of prayer
smelling that oniony
sting mingled with shit
and coffee, sweat
and bread-mold and death

remembering everything
i lower them into
the steaming, soapy water
rub them together
as if making a wish
and raise them up again


(kz 2010)

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