Cleaning the Paint Rollers
SUNY Jefferson
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Cleaning the Paint Rollers

CJ Southworth, 2012

A friend tells me
it’s not customary
to rinse the paint from the roller,
reuse it for the next project,
that they are meant to be thrown away.

And I remember hours in childhood,
scrubbing rollers under the pressure
of the garden hose—
thick rivulets of paint
running down the driveway,
forming colored puddles at the base of the hill in the dirt.

It would be so much easier now
to clean them—
the plastic tube at the center
would not crush and pulp
like the cardboard core in the old rollers,
would not ruin the entire thing,
make it unusable,
make it a waste.

I have spent over 30 years of my life scrubbing rollers
just because I thought that was what was done.

It’s amazing how easy it becomes
to be used to poverty,
accustomed to lack,
to need without knowing
that you need at all.