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Care of Hardwood Floors photo


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.


image: Caleb Curtiss