Demeter Scrubs the Bathtub

Elizabeth Vignali


When winter gives way to wet,
our breath more water than air,
you think of flowers:
snowdrops and cherry blossoms,
lilacs pearled in purple-beaded bundles, 
erroneous crocuses.

But no, those come later. 
The dark hearkeners that mark her
arrival are the dirty, robust creatures of Spring,
her unlovable fungal brothers. 
Black mold and downy mildew,
aspergillus and wallemia and mucor
in thick silvery patches. The green-
branched spiders of cladosporium.

Little underground transients
who fill their pouches with spores and carry
them home, fling them like confetti, 
splotch the wall around the tub
where I once bathed my daughter, 
sang “Five Little Ducks,” gave her
a bouffant stiff with suds.

I scrape mildew from the grout with my fingernail.
Scrub it with her old Disney princess toothbrush. 
As soon as I stop, it starts growing back.

My fucking green thumb. 
Being a goddess of growth has its drawbacks.

The wet rains of March. The wet march of mold.

This old house too much without her
here to push the green shadows away.


Elizabeth Vignali is an optician and writer in the Pacific Northwest, where she coproduces the Bellingham Kitchen Sessions reading series. She is the author of Object Permanence (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and Natural Bridge.

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