To the Person Who Put Up the Sign in the Break Room That Reads “Clean Up After Yourself! Your Mother Doesn’t Work Here!”

By Michele Rene
By Michele Rene

By Marco A. Vasquez

You know, fathers clean up, too.
What’s more, sometimes, fathers even clean up after mothers,
especially when mothers get that sudden urge
to bake, and suddenly there’s an army of dirty
mixers and bowls and silicone spatulas,
all congregating around the sink, and all the cereal
boxes, cast-iron pans, and skillets that are usually hidden
from visitors are removed from the oven to allow
for a twenty-minute batch of brownies to bubble
and stiffen;
and fathers clean up the stacks of mailthat seem to build at every corner of every counter
in the house, all of which are addressed to mothers
because that which was addressed to fathers
got tossed immediately, but mothers invent the probability
of importance to the most random of credit card
correspondences and catalogs;
and fathers clean upafter their kids and their Legos, which, at the time
of purchase may have seemed like a good idea—
what, with the potential of raising and engineer—
only to realize that out of the hundreds of pieces,
the kids were only interested in the figures,
and they abandoned the rest of the colored polygons
that fathers collect while crawling on the floor,
only to realize that they missed the smallest and sharpest piece
once they rest one of their already achy knees on it;
and fathers even clean their kids’ asses—
usually it’s just when whatever fathers are watching
on television has just gotten good—and the only reason fathers
even get up at that point is because they are tired
of hearing the boy yell, “I’m finished!” for the twelfth time,
and fathers learn how to get the job done quickly by swiping and folding,
and swiping and folding the baby-wipe until it is clean enough
(and if the father has a daughter, they learn—
sometimes the hard way—to only wipe from front to back);
and fathers even clean up after themselves,
all of the empty beer cans that trail fathers
from the barbeque grill, to the kitchen, and then back to the grill,
and which eventually amass on the rug by the couch
where fathers sit after everybody has gone to bed,
and when fathers have had their fill of silence,
fathers collect the cans in Target bags after pouring,
into the sink, what would have been warm final swigs,
and toss them into the recycle bin on the side
of the house before mothers or kids have a chance
to count them—and fathers do this with only a hint
of guilt because fathers feel they’ve earned it, after all—
and they’ll do this on Fridays and Saturdays,
and on the occasional Sunday, but only if I have Monday off.


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