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Perspective: If Hamlet did housework...


To dust, or not to dust, that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the home to take arms against

the piles of dirty laundry,

and by washing, folding and putting all the clothes away,

end with this hulking monster of Himalayan proportions.

To wash the sink or scrub the bathtub? No more the

offensive rings and dribbles of toothpaste that mar my mornings.

Or if we end this heartache and the thousand natural shocks

that await us when we come home at the end of a long day

only to find the house buried under toys and Lego blocks that have

mysteriously reproduced themselves during our absence.

A clean floor is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

To dust, to scrub, perchance, to vacuum? Ay, there's the rub,

for in that fantasy of a clean house, what new terrors will surface,

when everything is finally in its place? It gives us pause, and again, a day

has gone by without making significant headway.

When will I shuffle off this never-ending toil? Such is the calamity of life

that no matter how hard I try, there is always that final dirty plate

to haunt my existence and unleash upon me the calamity of domesticity.

For who would bear the constant whips and scorns of housekeeping?

Thus, chores make cowards of us all, and we bear these ills

until all currents turn awry and we must tackle it all over again.

I'm Frances Jaeger, and that is my perspective.

Frances Jaeger is an associate professor of Spanish at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include Latin American contemporary poetry as well as Caribbean and Central American literature.