by Rachel Pak ’18
Twenty-three, seventeen, two—
the numbers shock me in the middle of the night
—whispering— do it
hold your breath
unlock and lock the windows
count to five.
Four times is not enough.
The numbers shock me in the middle of the day—whispering—
are you sure the dishes are spotless?
are you sure?
Seven times is never enough
so the number eight holds me captive at the sink.
Are you sure your hands are clean enough
after all the socks,
the filthy people you’ve touched?
So the number twenty holds me captive at the sink,
peeling off the layers of dirt and germs with soap and my nails.
And after a day of cleaning, lining, organizing, organizing, organizing…
—whispering—do it, hold your breath, unlock and lock the windows, count to five
Do it. Now.
twenty-three, seventeen, two.