Every time that something falls
someone is consigned to pick it up.

Every time it drops or rolls into a crack,
blows out the window of the car

or down onto the dirty restaurant floor
—a plastic bag, a paper clip, a cube of cheese from the buffet—

and there somebody goes, down upon their hands and knees.
What age are you when you learn that?

After Dante finished the Inferno, someone
cleaned up all the ink and crumpled paper.

After the surgeons are done with the operating room,
someone makes it spic and span again.

After World War One, the Super Bowl,
a night at the opera.

After the marching feet of all humanity
come the brooms and mops, the garbage men

and moms, the janitors.
One day you notice them.

After that, you understand.
After that, then, no more easy litter.

No more towels
upon the hotel bathroom floor. You bend over

for even tiny bits of paper;
or bitterly, you look back at your life—like Cain,

upon the body of his brother.