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The Siren Song of the Cleaning Woman

I am here to clean your corner office
Empty the garbage and polish the mahogany desk
Keep the patterned precious carpet clean
Vacuum around (but never touch) your mirror-polished executive shoes

In your so-dignified two thousand dollar suit and tie
Your remote, so serious face, your crisp impeccable clothes
Your elite voice and hundred dollar haircut
Your privileged life so very, very far from mine

Come live with me
I sing my song
A voice so soft you strain to hear

So long, I have waited five sad longing years
To think of a way to lure and call you out of
Your pinstriped, brief-cased, shiny-shoed fortress
And into my blue collar world

At last I have found my song to move you
Pull you, take you, drag your mind away from
Your white collar, your comfortable upper class niche
And into my waiting nest

Come live with me
I sing my song
You didn’t see the melody enter your mind

No worries: I will show you how, so easy
First, as I vacuum beneath your desk
For the first time I dare to touch your untouchable shoes
And before you know is happening

I oh-so-quickly untie and oh-so-quickly pull off your
Shinier than a black mirror
Fancy handmade Italian leather wingtips
And peel off your black silk business socks

Come live with me
I sing my song
Crooning gently as you stare in shock

Your rich voice stops me “How dare you!”
You grab at your socks, reach for your shoes, furious
Humbled by the sight of your own bare foot
Not a match for the oh-so-dapper pinstriped suit

“What are doing! I’ll call security!” you cry
“Are you insane?! I am an executive and YOU…!”
But already I have entered your thoughts
With my coaxing, sweet and subtle voice

Come live with me
I sing my song
The Italian leather wingtips and silk socks fall to the ground

You are outraged but I sing my song to you,
Whispering, “White collar goodbye”
Soothing your worries and your cries fade away
“Just try it – a new door for you to enter”

I hold your pampered white feet in
My chapped red hands
White Collar feet
But not for long....

Come live with me
I sing my song
Your eyes glaze over, the struggle slows

ONE LAST TIME I allow you
To brush your toes against the rich leather
Of your shoes and touch the designer logo
On your socks with your smooth soles

Time to leave your expensive, shining footwear
To cry for their owner
Gleaming sentinels under your desk
Vacated emblems of past success

Come live with me
I sing my song
My voice smothers, kills every thought or doubt

Don't struggle anymore – don’t!
That’s right; just stand up on shaky legs and I
Will take your manicured corporate hand
To lead you, barefoot, out of your office of wood and glass

Forget that computer and that cell phone and that MBA
You reach for your $1500 briefcase but I kick it aside
With contempt, papers and folders fly in a storm
You reach for them, but I grab your hand for the first time

Come live with me
I sing my song
You resist – you are angry – and cannot understand

I hold tight the smooth hands I never dared touch
You struggle and cry and plead and beg
Forget your corporate future: just hear my voice calling you
The soothing song of welcome to your new life

You feel the soothing flow of my song
Stop your thoughts and quiet your fears
You think of your meeting tomorrow until
My song stops you

Come live with me
I sing my song
Your angry resistance crumbles, falls away

Here, take the service elevator
For the very first time as you shudder
Here is my beat-up 1989 Ford
Just relax – no, it isn’t that Porsche you drove this morning

We will take the exit
Into my blue-collar neighborhood
There is my trailer, never been here before?
Now step right out and enter your new home

Come live with me
I sing my song
Your eyes travel around the unaccustomed dirt

You stop at my door, light in the head
On the very threshold of my trailer
Your now dusty bare toes resting on the dirty step
Still in that beautiful suit and that perfectly dimpled tie

Every executive hair still in place
Manicured nails, cufflinks gleaming on fresh white cuffs
You look at me in wonder, whisper
“What am I doing? Who am I now?”

Come live with me
I sing my song
No – no need to leave – in fact, you won’t

“Never mind – it’s time to stop thinking” I sing
The panic leaves your glazing eyes
Just step right inside to your
New life, far from the corporate world

Settle down on my dirty sofa – that’s right!
Now put your smooth bare feet up
On my formica table with the crack
I will dismantle the upper-crust you

I will start with your monogrammed cufflinks
You look at me with wide, wondering eyes as
I slide that Rolex watch off your wrist
I grab that silk pocket square with a laugh

Come live with me
I sing my song
Now my voice is all you hear

Your tie! For so long I have waited!
Here - let me undo the perfectly tied tie
I untie and slowly pull off that symbol of class warfare
Leave your neck naked, open, longing for the power lost

You smell of starch and cologne and tailored wool
Your eyes wander ‘round the dirty room
You feel more and more at home
The million dollar deals fading in your softened mind

Come live with me
I sing my song
A spark of rebellion, but soon you are still

Now the trophy: the exquisite pinstriped suit
The tailored jacket with the satin lining
The trousers with the tailored cuffs
Your snowy white shirt falls away next

Here are some overalls and a very dirty wife-beater
Put them on and get used to them
Keep the cufflinks
Only to scratch the smooth soles of your feet

Come live with me
I sing my song
Now you are mine – who’d have thought?

Tomorrow quit your job
Give away your stocks and condo, oh! What
Is this in the hand-stitched pocket of your beautiful suit?
Keys to your Porsche?

Oh! No - you won't need those anymore
Shoes? For you! No, no, no.
Just some plastic flip-flops when you start work
Washing dishes at the diner down the street

Come live with me
I sing my song
You drink in my words, eyes blank and smiling

I will use your tailored suit and shirt and tie
To make rags to stop the window cracks
And you can do the dishes, barefoot in my kitchen
While I am cleaning office floors – but not yours anymore

Here is a beer, cold and ready
NASCAR is on so just relax
You won't need to shave, so no razors for you
Grow a scruffy beard on that smooth corporate neck

We’ll put a callus on those smooth corporate hands
And dirt under those fine corporate nails
And tattoos on those executive arms
And grow your corporate hair long and tangled

Come live with me
I sing my song
A flicker of doubt, of independence in your eyes!

My suit! My cufflinks! My freshly shined shoes!
My job and my Porsche and my briefcase!
My watch and my phone! My appointments!
My MBA, my OFFICE, my LIFE!

The words bubble and mutter out of your mouth
But I sing deep and sad, rich and warm
My words enter your mind and take up root
Your eyes again cloud over, happy, content

You now live with me
I sing my song
I throw away your wallet

You will get used to it, I promise
I will train you to speak a new language
As you leave behind your privilege and wealth
Far from your office and your Ivy League diploma and your impeccable grooming

Six months from now
Belching and sweating as you wash the dishes in the diner
You scratch your scraggy beard
Those Italian leather dress shoes and silk socks just a memory


 

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J.J. Wellington from Chicago writes, “I am trying my hand at poetry and fiction for the first time. After working many years in an office building, I had the idea:'What if a cleaning woman wanted to bring an executive into her world?' ”