by Merryn Rutledge

After unsuccessfully Googling my problem—
the milky film on my dishwasher walls,
I was leafing through the Kenmore manual
and poking my head in my appliance
to eyeball what was on the parts list 
when the word filters caught my eye.

You’re supposed to clean the filters—who knew?
I just moved in, and reading manuals isn’t my thing.
Back inside the machine, under the bottom rack 
where I didn’t think anybody but Sears repair 
would ever stick their head, I sought to
plumb the mystery of where the filters hid. 

I found the handle of a paring knife, 
rusty and unmanned by the loss of its blade,
a crusty dime that raised questions 
about what the previous homeowners ate,
sea glass sanded smooth by spinning washer blades
and lodged between the dirty filter screens.

After scrubbing each one with an old toothbrush 
I found under the sink, I climbed back on the web
where I located a product called Finish 
that promised to remove a mineral film 
and I felt hopeful, like when you’re nearing the end 
of a long boardgame and you look up to find 

the rain that kept you indoors has stopped 
so you can go for a walk around the lake
where mysteries are not for solving,
like how a whirl makes drying leaves pirouette on toe point,
and how, just before it slips away, the slanting sun flares 
to burnish a stand of yellowing beech to gold.

Merryn Rutledge got hooked on poetry when an iconoclast high school teacher taught Plath and poetry writing instead of the standard American lit survey. Writing is Merryn’s third career, after teaching literature and creative writing and then running a national leadership development firm. Merryn’s poetry has appeared in Aurorean, Borrowed Solace, Speckled Trout Review, Poetry Porch, Pudding, Oddball and other magazines.

Photo by D. Lanor