Marie Kondo–Anne Whitehouse

Bringing order
into home and workplace
makes room for hope.
Our clutter of things
is a clutter of emotions
that overwhelm us.

Marie Kondo arrives like a fairy
from another realm.
Her black hair, cut neatly
below her ears, shines like silk.
Under her straight bang,
her dark eyes sparkle.
Her smile is infectious.

She is as tiny and pale as a pixie,
yet she is married, with three children.
She wears a pure white blouse,
a full skirt, tights, and ballet slippers.
She laughs her tinkling laugh
and claps her hands together
at the sight of chaos.

She orders clients to bring all they have
out into the open and look at it,
touch it, and own it.
The tangle of clothes in the drawers,
in the closets, on the floor,
the piles of shoes, sports equipment.
The stacks of paper, jumbled books,
magazines, business records,
playbills, and correspondence.

The toys, the tools, the games,
the souvenirs, the family photos,
all the stuff they thought they might use,
and maybe did for a while, or didn’t.
Their collections of every kind,
and all the household objects
that seem to accumulate on their own.
Then there are the bathroom
and the kitchen, worlds of their own.

Faced with all the evidence
of their lives, Marie’s clients
frequently burst into tears.

Some of them have not looked
at their possessions in years.
They have forgotten what they have.
They find things they thought they’d lost.
Other things they wish they’d lost.
They recognize in the sprawl
their lives out of control,
and often they are ashamed.

But Marie Kondo waves away
shame and embarrassment.
She laughs again and claps her hands.
“I love mess,” she exults.
To ease the language barrier,
she brings a translator,
but for her message of acceptance,
no translation is necessary.

Marie Kondo asks us to handle
each of our objects one by one
and ask, Does this bring me joy?
We keep only what we say yes to.
Everything else will be donated,
sold, or thrown away,
but not before we hold
what we are discarding
and thank it for its service to us.

In Marie Kondo’s culture,
objects have lives of their own.
Examining what we have,
we take stock of our lives
and consider those we live with.
By treating our things with respect
at the end of their use to us,
we respect ourselves as well.

Deciding what to keep is only part
of the work. Marie Kondo reveals
how to make maximum use of space.
She shows us clever Japanese ways
of folding clothes so they stand up
in drawers or on shelves. She uses
dividers and boxes to partition storage,
grouping like objects together neatly.

She teaches that there is joy in order
and order in joy. We respect our things
by putting them away after each use.
We let go of what no longer serves us.
We make a space for ourselves
where there was no space before.


Anne Whitehouse‘s most recent poetry collection is OUTSIDE FROM THE INSIDE (Dos Madres Press, 2020), and her most recent chapbook is FRIDA (Ethel Zine and Micro Press, 2023). She is the author of a novel, FALL LOVE. Her poem, “Lady Bird,” won the Nathan Perry DAR 2023 “Honoring American History” poetry contest. A new poetry collection, STEADY, is forthcoming from Dos Madres Press in 2023.