A Letter to My Former Employer One Week After My Untimely Death

By Nancy Miller Gomez
Feature image: I Am the Abyss and I Am Light, 1928 by Charles Sims

My house cleaner passed away last week . . .
need to find someone new . . . Prefer someone
who charges by the hour . . . Bob 831-435-648
posted on social networking site Nextdoor

Dear Bob, Perhaps you’ve noticed the smell
of cinnamon and sweet rice drifting through
your kitchen at night. So when the ice melting
in your second glass of gin begins
to sound like a woman singing “El Cantante,”
you’ll know. It’s me.

We only spoke of cobwebs. La mugre y dust.
You never asked me nada. I have a son.
He misses my arroz con leche and my laugh.

Forgive me. I took pleasure in your bad Spanish. Yo estoy
poquito embarazada sobre mío lío en el baño is strange
in any language. I’m sorry you were a little pregnant
on your own in the bathroom. Don’t feel embarrassed.
I was once pregnant on my own too.

See how the stains on the tile around your toilet
have started to take on the shape of my face.
Mi cara! I can’t explain it. It’s just rust. I tried
to scrub it off. But I was someone
you paid by the hour.

Those final days, I know, I was going slow. Mucho dolor.
Still, you owe me a check. But last week, en mi cama,
I was filled with a longing to let go. Yo estaba acabada.

Bob, your number’s missing a digit. No one can reach you.
Though I always thought you were like a creature
in a tide pool who didn’t want to be touched.
Qué lástima. We could have comforted one another.

I hope you won’t forget the way I folded your towels
into a five-star destination, laundered your chones
with lavender, made your bed a lifeboat
of fresh linen. I gave you the world
inmaculado. I was someone named Consuelo.

Originally from Kansas, Nancy Miller Gomez now lives in Santa Cruz, California. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2021, Best New Poets 2021, The Adroit Journal, New Ohio Review, Shenandoah, River Styx, The Rumpus, Rattle, Massachusetts Review, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Punishment, was published in 2018 as part of the Rattle chapbook series. She co-founded an organization that provides poetry workshops to incarcerated women and men. More at: nancymillergomez.com

Feature image: Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) Photo © Tate, London.

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