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first week of march, window cleaning

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

i am an insect to the suits. suspended beyond the confines of their corporate space my voice deadened by urban scapes, my arms like vishnu's wave, and i flit and hum in their peripherals. from outside the window's pane i see shadows enslaved by industry, robots programmed to work the phones, cold automatons that foreclose loans, lost souls forever under neon.

One of the jobs I had as I was working my way through college, then university, was washing windows. I started in the late 1990's for a local window cleaning company in Red Deer and worked briefly on skyscrapers in Edmonton after I transferred to U of A. Skyscraper work was not for me. To be honest, even high ladders became a challenge. I found the longer I washed windows, the more wary I was of heights.

Still, I found window cleaning fulfilling, and in some ways, poetic. When I was outside a building, be it a street-level restaurant or on the side of an office tower, I would often imagine the conversations and backstories of the scenes I witnessed as I worked. It could be a first date, or an ending of a relationship, or maybe a Suit was closing a big deal with a lasting impact on their life or someone else's. After all, everyone has a story. Some of them are invented.

The Barenaked Ladies recorded a song called When I Fall about washing windows on skyscrapers, and I listened to it often during my window washing career. It is a beautiful B side regarding a service that is not often represented in any art form, period, and I still relate to it. I recommend checking it out on your streaming music service. I do not recall if I was listening to When I Fall while I wrote first week of march, window cleaning, but it is quite likely. As always, I hope you enjoy the poem and please like and/or comment if you are so inclined.

Joshua Wiebe

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