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Washing Windows

by Alan Harris
This morning we two are washing
our upstairs windows, a yearly drudge--
you indoors, and I out on a ladder.
Each other's face appears begrimed
through window after window
as we wiggle them free from
their filthy aluminum tracks.

We do lose our patience, let's admit,
if the other of us turns imperfect
somehow or startles the first
with a near-fall or a near-drop.
Danger and caution are dancing.

Suburban cleanliness fails to fool me.
I feel underneath this dayness an expansive
nightness where one's essence may freely
float between shadows of shadows
or bask in uncanny glimmers of glory,
having seen no shape, thought no thought.

Day distracts us. When we think to be
simply washing windows, an inner
mysteriousness guides our hands
from far behind our eyes. Day has
dangers, but night is as safe as Allness.
Wipe your glass clean, yes, but be not
deceived by what you see through it.

I could settle for a diet of only days--
our windows, their cleaning, shaky ladders,
plus countless other depthless decoys that
dwellers of the eye have come to accept.
But I won't.

I must be soft into knowingless night,
where quiet bumpings and strange
bewilderments flow, merge, disappear.
My appetite is for the fruit of freedom
growing upon hidden trees of maybe.

Wipe your window, yes, in bright daylight--
but I insist on washing my side with night.

From the book Heartclips (1996)

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