Dear Maria

Dear Maria,
You come to clean
our apartment
every other Tuesday
and you’ve been
coming for years.
I wonder if the way I feel
about your coming here
is some vague liberal
guilt or something else,
some sense that we
should all be cleaning
our own houses shouldn’t we?
When I try to rationalize
when I tell myself that I
am not a good cleaner
no one can know
how to do everything
you need the work we
are fair employers when I
try to add up all that is
good and not so good
about hiring someone to clean
our house even though I’m not
a good cleaner I’m still
not sure maybe it would be
better if I figured out a way
for you to get a different job
I’ve asked many times
what you would like to do
you who live in Queens with
your husband and kids
and 12 siblings all in the same
building you who came
from Ecuador to make some money
to send to your mother
to help your kids you who took
the path that all our relatives took
mine too they came here
and wanted us to have a good
education you do too your
daughter says she’ll be
a doctor even so it’s hard
not to want to have a
conversation does everything
have to be a conversation
with you hard to overcome
the employee employer thing
i don’t want to be
an employer never did
maybe I don’t want
to be an employee either
so where does that
leave us? Where?

Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


  1. Growing up we often had “maids” – they were called “maids,” I guess that’s the (an) “m-word…” They were nice women who needed work. Is it a better world that now we are ashamed to hire such people, that they can no longer get such work? Well, people spend money on their Verizon data plans, rather than cleaning persons… Something like that. it’s all good.

  2. I too vaguely remember having “a maid” come in once a week during my childhood. And now a days in Tel Aviv, we rotate, one week having “Avi”, who is actually a Palestinian homosexual who felt he couldn’t continue living in his conservative village in the West Bank who has lived in Tel Aviv for years using the Hebrew name Avi. The next week we have Georgi, a Russian fellow I believe, an unemployed artist, sometimes living on the street, and now with a roof over his head. The feeling here is that it’s a “mitzva” to provide them with work.

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