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Cave Canem: A Special Section

I am genetically predisposed to be a domestic

like my grandmother and her mother

I am not a domestic I am not even a tidy woman

In my own home, I only clean when absolutely necessary Yet I walk into public bathrooms and begin to clean the toilets

After I wash my hands, I wipe the sink dry and keep drying until a whole row of sinks gleam

I can’t help myself In restaurants, I clear crumbs from the table of people sitting next to me before the waiters have a chance

I do not accept tips In bathrooms, I sing a happy song while I work I do this when no one is looking I do this for the sheer joy of cleaning that which does not belong to me

I do not know why I still do this

Holly Bass

Holly Bass, who contributes articles to the Washington Post and the Washington City Paper, teaches creative writing at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC.

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