She sings aluminum and sometimes tin
while thinking of her hymnal mother:
a chain linking generations of cleaning ladies,
all of whom scrubbed urinals and bathroom walls
where elementary school boys competed
to see whose stream could hit the target:
a raised radiator steaming.
Chalk dust, pollen yellow, lifts like incense
as she claps erasers, prays to her God
for her daughters' deliverance
from this, her daily bread
from this, her daily dance.
Keys jingle, encircling a ring
paper clipped to the elastic waistband
of her polyester pants
adorned by tiny lint balls
that cling close like soft hope.
Her demeanor stems above her perennial labor:
the auditorium pipes snowing asbestos;
chemicals like pesticides seeping
into the petal of her skin.
Her sun filled face droops,
stem of her back curving, a cane,
white rays curling from exhaustion.
Her last breath
a release of seeds
caught in an updraft
all the leaves dancing.