Spring cleaning in Baltimore always involved
a yellow bucket sloshing with soapy water
and a rag recognized as the tattered remains
of my father’s bowling shirt, circa 1973.
I would be sent to the front of the house
on the first warm day of shorts
and no socks to wipe the marble steps.
It was also springtime, I would learn years later,
when Michelangelo would visit Carrara and lay
his head on recently quarried blocks. I wiped away
city grime, crushed berries, the dried paste
of bird mess. The stonecutters claim he listened
for cobwebbed whispers, ran his thick fingers
over mineral veins swirled within rock. I was
always amazed at how the marble would hold
the imprint of a leaf dropped in autumn and pressed
into a smudge by a winter of rain. If the tale is true
and the statues did indeed call out to be released
from their stone, imagine the Florentine
walking down East Pratt Street, hundreds of fat cherubs
trapped in the stoops, crying out to the Master as we sit
on their heads, resting cans of beer on their rumps.