You start by taking it out—gingerly,
of course, lest the gray matter be bruised—
and by brushing away any packaging
that may have stuck to it. Take it over
to the sink and place it in a basin filled with hot water,
where you can let it soak for fifteen minutes.
This is a crucial step for loosening
the sludge and gunk that has accumulated
over the years; if you rush through this part,
the job will only be harder for you later on.
So go ahead and start the crossword; enjoy
a cup of coffee, two cream, no sugar,
just how you like it; give the dog that ham bone
leftover from dinner. Come back
in fifteen minutes. I’ll be waiting.
Now that you’ve finished your tea (or sandwich,
whatever) drain away the water.
Take some good dish soap in your hand—
I prefer Palmolive—
and begin to work it into a rich lather
over all of the bumps and ridges. You want a firm,
yet intuitive touch, like a masseuse
who’s worth the arm and leg they charge.
A cloth or stiff brush can be a big help
for the stubborn stains that you can’t cajole
off with your hands alone, but use them
and you risk damaging the precious pink parcel;
perhaps it is best to let the patina
emerge as it will—a testament
to time and experience and life
that even the most thorough of scrubbings can’t erase.
I suggest you use a Q-tip and some rubbing alcohol
to get between the creases and folds;
you’d be surprised by how many crumbs
can build up in even so tiny an opening.
When you’re confident that you’ve gotten
rid of all of the grime, give the Cortex
a final rinse. You’ll want to place it in the dish rack
(make sure there are no knives)
so it can drip dry a bit
before you start to towel it off;
I’d say you could hang it on the clothesline,
but it might prove too tempting a treat
for those pesky jays to pass up.
Then, once you’ve patted it dry,
you should roll it in bubble wrap
and pack it away in a sturdy box or trunk,
place it in storage until you’re ready to use it.
It’ll only end up dirty again if you leave it out
where the kids can smudge it with their greasy little fingers,
and then you’ll just have to start the process all over again.
Just do what I do and forget where you’ve put it;
you’ll find, anyway, that you need it
less and less
each passing day.