Trash Day, Post-Halloween

posted November 2, 2022

This image has nothing to do with my post, but the cat insisted I needed to make it the featured image, and it’s a lot bigger than I am. If this is your cat, and you are mad at me for taking its picture, I will come to your house with cookies as an apology.

In my last residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I had the privilege of taking a workshop with Sue William Silverman, a brilliant, funny, infinitely kind and generous writer of memoir, essay and flash. We were all working on writing 700 word pieces, and she gave us this poem as an example of how to tell a whole story in very few words. I love this poem. Reading it, I can feel the heat of this Georgia morning, smell the dank odors of garbage and early morning suburban curbsides on trash day. You see all sorts of interesting things on trash day. I have written a poem modeled after this one as part of my 30 Poems in November fundraiser for Center for New Americans. To learn more, go here.

Taking Out the Trash

Kamilah Aisha Moon – 1973-2021

Someone else used to do this before.
Someone responsible,
someone who loved me enough
to protect me from my own filth
piling up.
But I’m over 40 now & live alone,
& if I don’t remember it's Thursday
& rise with the cardinals & bluejays
calling up the sun, I’m stuck
with what’s left rotting
for another week.
I swing my legs like anchors over the side
of the bed & use the wall for leverage
to stand, shuffle to the bathroom.
In summer, I slide into a pair of shorts & flip flops,
wandering room to room to collect
what no longer serves me.
I shimmy the large kitchen bag from
the steel canister, careful not to spill
what’s inside or rip it somehow
& gross myself out.
Sometimes I double bag for insurance,
tying loose ends together,
cinching it tightly for the journey.
Still combing through webs of dreams,
of spiders’ handiwork glistening above
the wheeled container on the back patio,
I drag my refuse down the driveway
past the chrysanthemums & azaleas,
the huge Magnolia tree shading the living room
from Georgia’s heat, flattening hordes
of unsuspecting ants in my path to park it
next to the mailbox for merciful elves
to take off my hands.
It is not lost on me that one day
someone responsible,
someone who loves me enough
will dispose of this worn, wrinkled
container after my spirit soars on.
I don’t wait to say thank you
to those doing this grueling, necessary work.
But I do stand in the young, faintly lit air
for a long moment to inhale deeply,
& like clockwork when he strides by,
watch the jogger’s strong, wet back
fade over the slight rise of the road.

Copyright © 2018 by Kamilah Aisha Moon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

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  1. I loved this post. That cat is mine. I have her adoption papers. Do you need an address to send the yummy cookies. I think Patty R. has it.

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