« Previous Next »

Cleaning the Operating Theater

by Woody Long

Deep underground, under the darkened dome,
dressed in surgical green, I wash the walls.
With water and ammonia I make them clean,
until no blackened blemishes can be seen.

Beyond the ring of windows staring down
the overarching sky revolves — pale stars
who watch without inquiry or reply,
who never tell a soul a reason why.

The stars dissolve into the rising dawn,
night fades away before the newborn sun,
while subterranean I labor on.
Ten feet from the table the walls were splattered.
It doesn’t matter. When my night’s work is done
the spots that spoil the walls are gone.

Woody Long is retired and lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Pat Jones
Published 31 May 2011