1. Do not use household dusting or cleaning products,
as these will damage hardwood floors, even if what you really want
is to blot out the blood that’s soaked in near the tub,
making the oak floor look like cherry.
2. Under no circumstances use ammonia. This will dull
the finish, and leave you thinking of his cat, who now twines
your feet, a shadow of gray and grayer, mewling, and how
he never emptied the litter box often enough.
3. Do not pour water directly onto the floor. You saw
the way the wood swelled, a sponge, near the tub,
as the water overflowed. You felt it squish beneath
your feet, as you turned off the faucets, and cradled his head.
4. When you rearrange the bedroom, the living room,
the bookshelf in the hallway, drag everything. The gouges
in the floor will become your scars, even as you erase
the life you had together. The floor is your map.
5. Keep the blinds closed, and the blue curtains drawn. Study
the fish you felted into schools of color, the white caps you sponged
near the top, so that even here in the desert, you could
look out on the ocean. This protects the floors from fading.
6. Let the dog’s toenails grow long. Start throwing a tennis ball
from kitchen to living room, watching her scamper, her hips slide
from under her. Watch hair fly, and settle on the boards, the long
scabs that form along the grain. Do this daily.
7. Use rugs in high traffic areas. Like the space in front of the door,
where once you kissed, dripping water from the freak spring
rainstorm last year, just after you moved in, where you kissed
again the morning of the day he drew a hot bath, slit his wrists.
8. Clean up spills immediately with a soft cloth or towel, or after
calling 911, even when you’re sure it’s too late. A bath
towel works. You’ll want to clean the spill before the ride
to the hospital. Let the towel pink. Ring it out in the tub. Repeat.