The Toothbrush

by Sue Guiney

By mistake I left my toothbrush in the downstairs bathroom
standing at attention, awaiting my return.

All day long I remembered to retrieve it
and bring it back to its home in the cup upstairs.

I remembered when I brought the dried towels from the laundry
and put them on the shelf across the room.

I remembered once again when I loaded the dishwasher
and swept up toast crumbs fallen in the corner.

Endless hours I remembered my poor toothbrush, only to watch it
slip back to that world of lost thoughts —

until just now when I stopped what I was doing
and marched up to that sink, laughing to imagine

my long-suffering toothbrush chuckling at me, having waited
so patiently, erect and out of place.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found it not there;
the space beside the downstairs’ toothpaste vacant,

vacant like me as I rushed upstairs to find it
settled in its proper place, returned sometime, somehow.

Condescending in its rectitude, it glared at me in wonder
at all I had forgotten. I shuddered. It bristled.