Night Janitor

Hunched over his mop, backbone like knotted cord,
Biceps straining with age, he scours away
The stains of yesterday, ridding the room
Of ghostly sneaker prints, crab apple pitch,
The scent of glue and crepe paper gone bad.

But where something has hardened, he stoops,
Pauses, listens. Is it a childhood friend
He hears? Or the broken bell in the hall?
Is it the flowering magnolia he smells
Where it hides by the dark school door?

Ornaments, framed against the night, rustle,
Fragments of cellophane lit up like stained glass,
And for an instant, God is not so distant,
Watching now like a boy at the window,
Breath moist and warm and ever young.

TIM BASCOM, author of The Comfort Trap: Spiritual Dangers of a Convenience Culture (InterVarsity Press, 1993), lives on a farm outside of Manhattan, Kansas.

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