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    Photograph of windows in an office tower taken outside the building at night.

    Poem: The Office Cleaning Lady

    By Allen C. Fischer

    June 30, 2016
    • S.M. Kozubek

      The mundane becomes spiritual amid the stars. Wonderful.

    • Deon Botha

      To the world with its pomp this lady may seem insignificant but to GOD she is known and special

    • Annette

      Exquisite and moving...benedicamus Domine!

    • Cathie

      this touched my heart. Beautiful.

    Qui tollis peccata mundi,
    the cleaning lady whispers,
    reciting the sacred text of Sunday Mass
    as if to illuminate the darkening hour outside
    the windows of the 82nd floor conference room.
    There, above the clotted city air and woolen lows
    of the clouds, she goes about her solitary job.
    As she works towards the 83rd floor, she moves
    ever closer, she likes to think, to the stars and
    to the glittering sparks of the spirits.
    Proceeding quickly, cleaning away the oily finger
    prints of the portfolio managers, her cart of cloths,
    mops and supplies out in front of her, she inches
    forward, ascending on a magical dream
    to where the nocturnal sky is less confining.
    As the night deepens, Agnus Dei comes to her
    and she begins to see a constellation of a lamb,
    the one which takes away the sins of the world.
    Miserere nobis plays as though one could vacuum
    the adjusted numbers and secret deals away.
    Would that each chair confess
    the transactions it was privy to. And pigeons read lips.
    Agnus Dei, she repeats, as if the lamb could cure
    the debts of the world and pigeons transmute
    into doves and the peregrine falcon become a prince.
    But her supplications go unheeded. She is talking
    to herself. Cum sancto Spiritu, she hears herself say
    to the ghost of whatever deity had left for the day and
    to the office towers and empty suites across the street.
    She wonders if halos can be turned on like fluorescent
    lamps and if some night the city might soak up
    the darkness outside leaving nothing but
    faint glitter of distant galaxies. Benedictus qui venit
    she says, spray bottle of Pledge in hand. And suddenly,
    there are only two offices to go and then the subway
    home, the sparsely filled car quietly lurching. Soon
    matins, and soon the executives back at their desks.


    Translation Notes:
    Qui tollis peccata mundi: Who takes away the sins of the world
    Miserere nobis: Have mercy on us
    Agnus Dei: Lamb of God
    Cum sancto Spiritu: With the Holy Spirit
    Benedictus qui venit: Blessed who comes

    Photograph: unsplash / Vladimir Kudinov

    Photograph of windows in an office tower taken outside the building at night.
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