Spring Cleaning by Deborah Mashibini

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


I cleaned off the basement shelves today:
discovered old gas and radiator caps,
petrified car polish, hair grease;
organized cleaning products, sorted rags,
threw out bent and rusty nails;

found the gift packing tissue we were sure we had
before we bought more
and swept away decades of spider carcasses.
Get rid of it all, my mother-in-law said,
I don’t even want to look at it.

Three big bags of trash later I had
one small box of metal for recycling:
copper pipe, brass fittings, aluminum,
and two cast iron hot combs.

She saw the box, grabbed the combs,
We need these – they’re history!

My sister-in-law winced and touched her ears,  
Mom talked of squeezing
children between her knees, the importance of balancing
heat and grease;

then they both laughed,
remembering the smell of burned hair.

But you aren’t going to use these again, I said,
eyeing the tortuous tools.
History, she replied, firmly,
and took them out of my hands.


Deborah Mashibini currently lives in New Hampshire where she writes, teaches English composition and is enrolled in the MFAW program at Goddard College, Vermont Campus. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the online journals Mojave River Review, Postcard Poems and Prose and Looseleaf Tea. Print publications include the 2013 edition of the St. Louis Black Pages and Community Annual Magazine, the No Vacancy: A Voice for Those Without One anthology, Kaleidoscope Magazine, American Society: What Poets See, Drum Voices Revue, Untamed Ink, River Bluff Review, Sestina: Six Women Poets, and The Harwood Anthology.

Mashibini spent more than 25 years working with nonprofit organizations serving people who were homeless and people with disabilities in St. Louis, New York, New Mexico, San Diego and South Africa. She encouraged and facilitated writing and other creative work by people served by those nonprofits, editing and publishing Forgotten Voices/Unforgettable Dreams, an anthology of creative writing and art by homeless people living in New York City in 1987 (which received a “Worst Book of the Year” award from The American Spectator – Bob Woodward was runner up that year with Secret Wars of the CIA), served as co-editor for The Best of The Enabled Writer, an anthology of creative writing by people with disabilities in New Mexico, plus Blindness Isn't Black and Where We Can Read The Wind, two anthologies of work by people with disabilities in Missouri. As she turned 50, she decided it was well past time to focus on her own creative work, a decision which took her to grad school and her current career as a part-time adjunct instructor and daily writer.