When to Sweep by Anna Armstrong

A girl sits at the breakfast table as her mother sweeps the kitchen floor. The mother wears a
heavy robe over pajamas. The girl is eating cereal and reading the cereal box as she silently
chews. She reads it every morning – top to bottom, side to side. Ingredients. Nutritional facts.
History. Company data. Prizes inside. Contests to enter. She reads everything. She stops to
watch her mother – both are quiet. Sunday quiet. Her siblings are still sleeping. Her father on
the golf course.

How do you know when it’s time to sweep?

What gets swept?

Crumbs. Dirt. Sand. Glass. Broken glass. Glitter. Dog hair. Dust. Slips of paper. Torn paper. Paint
chips. Secrets. Shame. Uncomfortable conversations. Addiction. Abuse. Alcoholism. Binging.
Fatness. Grief. Dreams. Failures. Bobby pins. Hair bands. Incent sticks. Words. Affairs. Family.
Friendships. Emotions – anger love hope fear sadness. Unrequited love. Disappointment.

Self-esteem. Self-worth. Sexuality. Desire. Disease. Illness. Death. Loss. Expectations. Mothers.
Fathers. Lovers. Children. Abortions. Siblings. Unsatisfaction. Tacks. Coins. Tiny toys. Confusion.
Crushes. Romances. More conversations. Loneliness. Food. Food is both swept and shoveled.
Weight. Sloth. Disappointment (again). Disgust. Or does disgust stay on the surface?

What escapes the broom?

There is always a little left behind.

You cannot sweep a floor entirely clean. Not all of it gets into the dustpan although you bend
over again and again and back it up and back it up and sweep into the pan again and again.
Once twice three times. Sometimes you give up.

Feel the crunch under your feet. Hear it. It sticks to the bottom of your foot.