Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits

27 October 2014

Dear Friends,

My dear friend Peter Temes shared this poignantly ironic poem with me years
ago, and for some reason I have been thinking about it this weekend. Perhaps
the reason is that the cashier at my local market has this name, and every
time he calls me Michael, I am fearful to call him by his name.

Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits

No one asks
where I am from,
I must be
from the country of janitors,
I have always mopped this floor.
Honduras, you are a squatter’s camp
outside the city
of their understanding.

No one can speak my name,
I host the fiesta
of the bathroom,
stirring the toilet
like a punchbowl.
The Spanish music of my name
is lost
when the guests complain
about toilet paper.

What they say
must be true:
I am smart
but I have a bad attitude.

No one knows
that I quit tonight,
maybe the mop
will push on without me,
sniffing along the floor
like a crazy squid
with stringy gray tentacles.
They will call it Jorge.

— Martín Espada

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