what am I listening to..?
it's not the Pacific Ocean across the street...

heavens below...

on a Saturday afternoon, in February, 1972, there was nothing left to do but scrub your kitchen floor. our late breakfast was done. our after late breakfast sex was done. it was chilly and foggy outside. it was chilly and dim inside. the choices were few. sit around and drink coffee or scrub your kitchen floor. I voted for coffee, as usual. we could, you said, drink coffee after we scrubbed your kitchen floor. we would, you said, sit naked together in the middle of the kitchen, on the newly scrubbed floor and drink coffee. you said we could climb mount everest, play bounty hunter or write poems about coffee and bicycles, but only after we scrubbed your kitchen floor. you had, I mentioned, lived here over the luncheonette for almost two years and never scrubbed your kitchen floor. you stuck out your lower lip and narrowed your eyes, a face that was reserved for two occasions; you were either going to have an orgasm or you were going to surgically remove a section of my jugular vein. I surmised it was not due to orgasm. so we set about to scrub your kitchen floor. you went to get dressed. I assembled the following:
one bucket for hot water and soap.
one large spaghetti pot for cold rinse water.
one large, brand new, never before touched by human hands, genuine hog bristle scrub brush (now where did that come from?).
all the dirty towels from your bathroom to wipe the floor with.
a pot of coffee.
you returned wearing a tee shirt and a baseball cap. nothing else. and so, we began.
where to start? if we start over there, and work our way over here, we won’t get trapped in the kitchen, we can end up in the living room. ok. I started to scrub. you rinsed. we both wiped. it was becoming apparent that, as we got into it, something interesting was unfolding under our hands and knees. we expected the floor to end up being a lighter shade of gray tile than what it started out as, but as years of dirt and grime and neglect were scrubbed away, the floor was actually made of tiles that were shiny white. and even more surprising, here and there was a tile with a little blue star glazed into it. more and more, as we scrubbed around the edges, stars started to appear. as we got closer to the center of the room, the blue of the stars started to overtake the white of the tiles until, in the very middle of the kitchen, once scrubbed clean, was a galaxy of shiny blue stars. we scrubbed and rinsed and wiped for hours, moving the table and icebox and cabinets so we could do the floor under them until, when it was starting to get dark outside, we had our own night sky under our raw knees. we just knelt there looking around, not speaking as it all sunk in. we cleaned up the bucket and pot and brush and towels and then you took a quick shower and put some real clothes on. go take a shower, you said. you were going out to the store down the street.
I stood in the rain of hot water, letting the steam clean the smell of soap out of my nose and the grit off my skin and thought about who created that floor. why, in the kitchen of some little walk up flat over a Pacific beach luncheonette, would someone take all that time and trouble and expense to create something so astounding?
I turned off the water and wrapped myself in some towels and walked through to the kitchen. now I knew. there you were, sitting naked in the middle of the floor, surrounded by a hundred little birthday candles you bought, one stuck on every star around the edges of the room, blazing away. you looked so sacred sitting there. glowing stars, a naked you and two cardboard cups of store down the street coffee. I got the only two mugs you owned, the one with the angel on it and the one with the map of Idaho. we filled them with the cardboard coffee and drank a toast to the heavens above and the heavens below. and then we climbed mount everest, played bounty hunter and wrote poems about coffee and bicycles all night long.


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