the burden of perfection

be sure to vacuum at least three times a week.
organize your pantry alphabetically
and hang your clothes in order by color,
then sleeve length.
get down on your knees and scrub the bathroom floor
as often as possible.
remove the burners and covers from the stove
and rail against the residue of meals carefully prepared
until no trace of them remains.
fold the laundry to specifications
towels in half, then in three
t-shirts in three, then in half.

wake up in the middle of the night,
certain of something you’ve forgotten,
but you must not know what
(until it’s almost too late).

when it’s time for a party,
carve your radishes into roses
and your nerves into shreds.

as the vacuum hums plaintively
on its tri-weekly basis
begin to hum along –
a tune you barely recall.
find your solace in the gleaming surface
of an empty coffee table,
polished and polished to shining
(unlike you – you fade more and more each day).

last but not least,
paste on a smile.
Your perfection is effortless, after all.

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