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I stare in a sort of awed horror at the TV
and watch a team of experts in haz-mat suits
enter the home of an elderly woman named Martha
who wears her hair in pigtails and owns too many cats.
It's like a scene in a slasher movie, the one
where the hero faces off with the ax murderer.
You want to look away, but my God, it's gruesome
and you find yourself gaping at the TV, transfixed.
Whose house actually looks like that, anyway?
Who can possibly accumulate that much stuff,
that much junk, in a single lifetime? Although
I suppose, to Martha, none of it is junk.
Like that papier-maché ballerina, half-crumpled
against a ceramic frog sculpture and a ukulele,
although Martha admits to never having learned
to actually play the ukulele, or the tuba next to it.
A cluster of pizza boxes, piled almost to the ceiling,
and a collection of hats Martha will never wear
are pushed aside to reveal, oh, look, the decaying body
of Mr. Fluffy. Martha never even noticedthe cat missing.
And over here, look, there's a stack of newspapers
dating back at least half a century, in case Martha
feels like reliving her childhood. Move that aside and
unearthed is a camping tent, though she hates camping.
The haz-mat crew keeps cleaning, and it's sort of like
watching an archaeological dig, but in someone's house.
And I'm wondering how anyone can live like that,
never letting go of a single piece of garbage, ever.
Although I can relate, in a way, to these hoarders.
My own room is relatively neat compared to Martha's.
But I've realized lately what a piece of garbage you are,
and yet I still have difficulty cleaning you out of my heart.
So I suppose in a way, I am a hoarder, just like Martha.
But I can take comfort in one difference between us:
I may keep you for too long, but I will never push aside
a pile of pizza boxes and discover a dead cat.