He maintains the truth around him,
each and every room in turn.
Every vessel of knowledge matters,
each as important as the one before,
the last, the first, and all between.

He doesn’t breeze through his work.
He sweeps away the dust and pencil shavings,
but doesn’t wipe away the residue of art,
that which was created so fervently,
if yet without much skill.
He has a trunk at home
filled with his own children’s artwork,
and each piece he sees fills him anew.

He sometimes skins his knuckles,
making minor repairs to this and that,
but that doesn’t matter. It’s just a covering,
as his job doesn’t cloak who he is.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 19 at The Sunday Whirl. Thanks to Brenda, as always, for these wordles. And thanks again for choosing words from one of my poems. It’s good to be missed, but it’s even better to be back reading and writing again.

Obviously, being back in the classroom has influenced my subject matter.


17 thoughts on “Custodian

  1. I like this very much. its easy to confuse people with the job they do. I like the detail about the care the custodian takes with the artwork and the scraping of the knuckle. good write!

    • Pamela, thank you. Now you’ve given me an idea. Now I’m thinking I should write a series of short poems, all different views on the same classroom, from the perspective of a teacher, student, parent, principal, custodian, etc.


    • Traci, thank you. I’m impressed by people who bring a dignity to work that is not often considered dignified. I had a couple of custodians in mind that I’ve known as I wrote this one.


  2. Richard, thank you for the inspiration. My new goal is a custodian poem—we have a doozy of a head engineer in our building. He’s a growly old bear who loves his building best when it’s empty. LOL I’ll trade you. Yours sounds like a gem. Luckily a kindly woman is in charge of our wing.

    “Custodian” is an engaging read. Your custodian sounds like an unsung hero.

    • Brenda, I look forward to your custodian poem. I had a couple of men in mind as I wrote this poem. Sadly, neither one works at my school any longer. One has since passed, and the other is probably now retired, which he well deserves. Glad you liked the poem, and that it has inspired you.


  3. Many of us know unsung heroes, and some of us have actually been one of them. You point out something really important in your poem. All work is important and the care we bring to it is one of the major keys to being satisfied when the task has been completed. I really like where you took these words Richard, and have also missed seeing you and your thoughts.


    • Elizabeth, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. I couldn’t agree more; I think you said it so well. It’s good to be missed, but it’s even better to be back.


  4. Richard, I was so enthralled in your story, I did not realize that it was for a wordle prompt until I read your notes.

    There is a personality that brings beauty and excitement to whatever they do. It has been my privilege to be escorted through some mundane factories by the factory owners (crime scenes). When they talk about what they are doing/creating, they become animated and there is excitement in their voices. You see a love of creating, of working with people, that isn’t found in places being run by corporate greed. These are the throwbacks to a time of America’s greatness.

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