Coming up a stairwell, I stop. A custodian, a man holding a feather duster, has also stopped at the midway landing to let two women pass. They descend to the landing, past the man and the duster, then past me, and I recall nothing of them but a single red shoe. It’s a dull thing, heeled, and the outside looks soft with the nappy texture stuffed animals take on after years of absorbing drool. I suspect that the woman has not been drooling on her shoe. I fix on what I imagine is an apologetic expression, flash that at the man—his own expression reassures: no, no, it’s fine—and I continue my ascent.

The duster makes me think of Luisa. Luisa also had a duster. She cleaned a church that only has one stairwell, but has a legion of dusty rafters in its high-ceilinged nave. Perhaps she attached her duster to a pole.

In South America, Luisa had been a lawyer. That was before she came North.

Coming down the stairwell, I see the custodian again. His name, Jean, is embroidered clear white in a green work jacket.

“I’m sorry,” I say.