and my husband mentioned something about it weeks ago

     and I listened, but I didn’t hear him.

I hadn’t opened the curtains in so long that I just forgot there was even anything behind them.

     We keep our bedroom like a cave and the window is on the side of the house with the tree that

     blocks the sun when it does appear–the darkness encouraging the wet encouraging the growth.

I’m horrified, I texted him, before spraying the spread of dark musky green with cleaner and scrubbing

it down with a brand new sponge,

     but the cleaner was plant-based and so I did wonder if I was just facilitating a long-sought after

     family reunion and the mold and the cleaner are now conspiring against me.

Now, the window itself is clean, but shadows hang on the wood of the window frame,

     faint green circles with hollow white middles, like mildewed ghosts,

     whispering to me about my failures as a housewife. 

It’s true, I do not clean enough.

     It’s true, I could go for weeks without picking up a rag,

Waiting until the filth is thick and loud, then whirling around in a temper on a Sunday morning,

huffing and scrubbing.

     Cleaning–like church, like summers in Washington state, like ice cream, like movie

     nights–feels much better when it doesn’t happen all the time.

It’s late February and the sun has made a rare appearance, but as soon as I sit down out on my front

porch in hopes of writing a poem, it begins to rain, and the clouds roll in, 

     like soldiers, fighting a war no one asked them to be a part of.

I know the mold will come back. It’s what mold does.

Many Sundays from now, I will be scrubbing again, imploring some higher power to get me through

this moment, get me through this winter, 

     this winter that makes me feel like I need to start praying again, or more, or better

and there will be poem in the back of my mind, waiting patiently until I can sit down with it, and

finally let the words spread like spores out of my consciousness, 

     with the dead sponge cast aside, my hands unarmored, open to the world and all its wild



Author Bio:

Erin Schallmoser (she/her) lives in the Pacific Northwest and loves moss, slugs, and the moon, when she can see it. Her work can be found in Hobart, Rejection Letters, Maudlin House, Moonpark Review, Sledgehammer and elsewhere. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gastropoda, and is on Twitter @dialogofadream. You can read more at erinschallmoser.com/.