My Black Leather Cleaning Gloves

What the tour books do not tell you
about the streets of Rome: certain ones reek of blood.
The Pantheon, oculus dilated, allows in far more rain than wind or
sun. Rain, because killing engenders cleaning, cleaning
engenders a faster death - the washer women, the bleachers
on the banks of the Tiber, what was once a place of skin-sloughed
labor, the chemicals so strong they reached up from the water, crying
as though cutting shallots, so much stronger than onions.
A sharpened knife is the safest. That's what any good cheff will
tell you, especially the Roman ones, because it's the tendons and the
in-betweens of the meat that trickle-down to be affordable, and only
a sharp knife has a place amongst that stuff, pearly white, in sharded
sections with bone. They don't say why the thick, black leather is used,
the thick, black leather glove that we put on our hands because the work
has taken it out of our skin, cut into, bit into by bleach and by life, and what
was funny was that they found the glove and had started looking, looking
for a man, and you had found that funny, hadn't you? A man.
But there's got to be some kind of payment, a tax on this land, the land that is the street
here, the land that I must cross but fear, you on all sides, all of you, the men.
you act as though you've never seen a cornered cat, as though you've
never felt the sting of the ant you were tormenting with your finger
and you've done enough with your fingers, haven't you? The pages
of the tour book dog-eared, traces of blood cleaned from our fingernails,
everyone waking to the bells in the morning
and the smell of entrails on the cobblestones.