A cleaner sees her client in the shop
She doesn’t recognise me
(We’ve never met in person)
but I’ve fingered through her knicker drawer
and peered between her curtains
I’ve straightened up her duvet,
brushed the ginger hair:
(her hair’s brown; her husband’s fair).
I found an indicator once,
in the bathroom bin.
Its telltale spot glowed sapphire blue,
betraying carnal sin.
After that, the leaflet:
for cheating women who, like her,
can’t resist temptation.
She must have thought her secret safe
stashed beneath her “women’s things”
for no wife’s husband likes to think,
of gussets, thrush cream, pads with wings…
I took it and I kept it,
and I plucked the ginger curls,
knowing that one day I’d have
a good use for those whorls.
In a year or two, I thought,
they’d oil negotiations
for a rise of ten percent
‘to keep up with inflation’
But sod that now
she’s blown her chance
by acting like a queen
looking down her nose at me
and pushing in between
the man ahead and where I’m standing,
waiting in the queue,
unaware of who I am
or what I now shall do.
I’ll salt her husband’s pillow
with the little ginger hairs
and the telltale test will settle nicely
in the loo downstairs.
He’ll be the first one home tonight,
and think she’s tried to flush away
the evidence that while he’s working
she’s been led astray.
He’ll head up to the bedroom
(where I’ll ruffle up the quilt)
and find the crumpled leaflet
that I’ll drop to prove her guilt.
I hope it wounds her more than him;
stings her with regret,
and teaches her a lesson
she’ll not easily forget:
That everyone deserves respect
regardless of their pedigree –
for they might be your cleaner,
and cleaners copy keys…