The dust has been removed and
the toilet was scrubbed. The children
packed toys away, off the floor and out
of sight. Lasagna is in the oven; the
house smells like melted mozzarella
and wet Swiffer sheets.
She will not be allowed to see any filth
or disorder, and even the cat has been
instructed not to shit during the hour
of her visit. Should a child throw a
tantrum, my wife has tranquilizer
blow-darts to take the beast down.
Lights will be dimmed to hide stains
and soften our own appearances. The
music we play over dinner will muffle
the shouts from the neighbors. Smiles
cover our insecurities, and, if all goes well,
she won’t realize just how fucked up we are.