Sunday Cleaning

Kan Ren Jie

He cleans every Sunday, the stray strands

of a mop curling in blackness. A glimmer of 

of dripped liquorice,  gaudy sweetness

tinged with ritual. A liturgy for the sterile.                                                                  A hymn for the capsule. This sacrament

of lemon curling to droplets, oozing sour                                                                  rain, like forced memory of healing.

He washes off the squawk: a crow                                                                            that stirs at dawn, its cries                                                                                          that drowns delirium. He hears

the blaring:                                                                                                                  radios, dying embers of television                                                                                a minister flattened in white, drowned

by a cough. This is the cleaning                                                                                    of a Sunday noon: where the week is washed

of its scars. When leaving home he feels fear                                                            in the weeds: its overgrown shoots thrust round                                                      a neck like a garland. A slow tightening. This wildness

drapes the skin, shedding off mouths                                                                      like thin depressions, potholes

floating inhuman. He asked for a haircut                                                                that evening. He asked for a barber, the harsh buzz

a Number One that fades to Zero.                                                                              So now he cleans off the sky                                                                                    with Dettol, striking the floor as battle. 


The cheap blur of lemon-lavender                                                                    thinning as consolation. A mop lying wrenched


of essence. A shaved head,                                                                                          the harsh buzz of white.


The grimace of his barber.                                                                                          The sweating forehead, a patch                                                                                sour like wine. Cleaning is erasure:


where skin peels, rust thickening the nails                                                                  as ripples. Here is the dim flaring of fear.                                                                He dips the mop in water. He embraces clean.

Kan Ren Jie writes poetry and fiction. He recently graduated from Yale-NUS College in Singapore, majoring in Literature and Creative Writing, and currently works at New York Shanghai as a Global Writing and Speaking Fellow. In his writing, Ren Jie engages with and explores questions about  culture, religiosity, and the experience and narratives that surround familial life.

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