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For Dr. Ford, A Poem by Jane Barnes: “Cleaning the Floor”

Jane Barnes 1 year ago

For Dr. Ford: Cleaning the Floor

I can’t do anything for you, dear Dr. Ford

so I get my Swiffer and for the first time

in three months I Swiffer my floor

I sweep a little at first–don’t want

to move around too much dirt–BUT the dirt is there

several dust bunnies and lost paper clips


Meanwhile you, Dr. Ford, are speaking for 51 percent of

women (and many men) and for me

so I became willing to go far back

into my bedroom and clean

underneath a place you suffered terror one day

I clean the whole room

maybe also of nightmares I have sometimes–

thanks to my father–

you put two front doors on your new house so no one got trapped


That’s why I like to be alone, alert to noises

I knew Dr. Ford–her brilliance, her pain

and now the bad suit puppet prosecutor is grilling her

and meanwhile I’m waxing by the door

I’m sweaty and hot like you were

struggling under the assault

then the prosecutor drones on with a motherly smile


And Dr. Ford speaks about boys

she “went out with”

I take off the filthy Swiffer cloth,

drape it over the lip of my wastebasket

like you tried to forget all that mess


She’s drinking Coke

let’s give Kavanaugh a non-alcoholic beverage

let him sober up and indeed he’s got a big problem

does he know his life is getting mopped up

that his floor is black with filth

as if a tsunami has raked over it

it will never come off

nor will the Senate “boys” be able to form a line to

file into a terrified woman’s hiding place


And just now a kind-looking man

places his hand gently on her head

her husband I think

she doesn’t startle

her lawyers gently touch her shoulder

a woman friend moves beside her

and I leave the house

go down the block to my therapist

tell her crying

I’m thinking of the women weeping today

from gratitude and from all our pain

the faces of the violence vivid in front of us


Back at home the TV’s still on

as if if I turn it off her truth would suddenly stop

well my floor looks clean

it was so filthy like women with PTSD are today

we go from dirt and lie to truth and gleam


But here’s Lindsey Graham asking

why don’t you know where and when it happened

She says softly

I may not know the date or the place

but something happened and what I remember–

at my expense,

is the laughter

the uproarious laughter…

you facetious snickering smart-aleck smart-ass


for shame


Nicole Jeffords, Under Oath, Oil on Canvas, 2018


  1. Marianne Smith February 22, 2020

    Thanks, Jane.
    ‘Tis a dirty, nasty chamber we need to navigate.
    A necessary, yet exhausting task.
    – Marianne


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