2004 Winner’s Poem

Window Washer

by Judson Evans

It’s the job I’ve always wanted — ladder and chamois, buckets
and blades, high above the Monday morning traffic.
Before I found this niche, or aerie, I suffered the belatedness
of cities, dreams already sub-let, area codes exhausted, every inch
a pre-recorded message.

Secure the swing stage, strap the harness, set the controls
on “glide” … Who says there’s no advancement,
no future in my work? Even if there’s nothing to show
but shine, every day’s a branching out, another set of stories
to scale. The fluid world flows back beneath my blade.
Sometimes I see myself on hands and knees, kneeling in the stream
you can’t step twice in, the wet skin of the sky that floats
powerlines and billboards. Only so many practice runs:
steady the squeegee, circle the wrist for the broad unbroken
S-sweep down the glass, then for years it’s all patience, entering
the distraction, the blur and clear and blur and clear made up
of those awakenings when a whole ensemble lies before you
like a shiny museum case. You open it and touch everything
and nothing can be broken.
a whole city
soluble in fog —
only the antennas

2004 Judge: Molly Peacock