Cleaning Out the Bank

One of my first jobs
was cleaning out the bank
on the corner of Wyoming
and Main. It was in 11th grade
so it was a part-time job,
and the best part about it
was being able to say
I was cleaning out the bank.
That was better than the pay
which wasn’t much at all,
and better than the hours
which were any time after
the bank closed at four-
thirty. It was even better
than having the keys to the bank
and letting myself in as though
I lived there—which was a close
second. First I’d dust all the desks
and empty the wastebaskets
and wash the bullet-proof glass
and wonder if it really was.
Then I’d vacuum around the lobby
and behind the teller stations,
and sometimes, rarely, and only
when I wasn’t looking for it,
I’d find some money—torn fragments,
bits and pieces, a corner or an edge
of a president or bay laurel leaf—
and once I found a whole
half of a twenty dollar bill
ripped clean down the middle
which I laminated and still keep
right here in my wallet,
taking it out often as though
one could go on extracting joy
from a worthless thing

Paul Hostovsky is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Hurt Into Beauty (FutureCycle Press, 2012). He works in Boston as a sign language interpreter. To read more of his work, visit him at www.paulhostovsky.com