John Garth Raubenheimer

(21/12/1947 / Johannesburg)

Cleaning For Mrs L.

I'd see you crouching down by your front door:
your pastel colours through the frosted glass.
All ready to spring on me with a roar
- old women do roar - the instant I'd pass
that one bright red rose on the garden wall.
'Just going by my door, I saw you turn, '
you'd cry, beckoning me into the hall,
the door flung open, on your cheeks the burn
of guilt and pleasure: company at last.
Pretext was the cleaning. I'd carry on
polishing, dusting the black-and-white past,
while you prepared a cup of tea, a scone.
Then we'd sit down, the excuse fell away.
You talked, I listened for my cleaner's pay.

Submitted: Monday, March 12, 2007
Edited: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

I worked for BNA (British Nurse's Association) for a couple of years, supporting old people in our town in their homes. This meant doing a bit of shopping and quite a lot of cleaning. I remember Mrs L with affection.

Comments about this poem (Cleaning For Mrs L. by John Garth Raubenheimer )

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  • Ruth Walters (2/4/2010 12:59:00 PM)

    Absolutely spot on, the company is always better and I enjoyed this poem, just like a scone and cuppa

    Ruth (Report) Reply

  • Ivor Hogg (11/7/2008 4:54:00 PM)

    the company is more important than the cleaning I used to train Home helps and that was my message from the word go (Report) Reply

  • Rochelle Cashdan (5/18/2008 8:53:00 PM)

    A tidy, well-crafted poem that moves through a relationship I'll remember. I'd be pleased to find a comment from you about any of my poems. (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »

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