chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: vacuum

found poem: president

rock the pastoral…

fragments…Kendra ~ 3

ElectroluxBefore Hamill and Lila moved in, a young woman had lived upstairs from Kendra. They had never met. Sometimes Kendra followed the faint sound of her footsteps out the door, then watched from the window to catch a glimpse of her, but the neighbor would turn in the other direction, away from Kendra’s view, or be lost under the large hood of her pea coat. She was an outline, as incomplete as her initial — V. — and last name on the mailbox.

Kendra never heard voices, music or the sound of a telephone from the apartment upstairs. What she heard was the vacuum. Every single day. The vacuum would roar to life shortly after 9 a.m. and plow back and forth, back and forth, across the carpeting in the bedroom, then into the small living room, clattering off the carpet onto the wood floor and into the corners, then thump over the sill to circle and circle the kitchen and finally back across the apartment to the bathroom, where it would vibrate over the tiles and finally power down to silence.

At first Kendra had thought the woman must have spilled something — sugar, talcum powder — then she imagined a posse of shedding cats. But after two weeks, Kendra resigned herself to the compulsive roar of the woman’s cleaning and decided that the V in her name stood for Vacuum. Some Sundays, lingering in bed with her tea and books, Kendra would watch the ceiling and try to imagine her neighbor’s life: white chenille bedspread, closet shelf stacked with vacuum bags, pea coat on a hanger.

The daily vacuuming went on for what, eight years? Nine? Then one day it was absolutely quiet and the next day Hamill and Lila moved in. When Kendra hinted for details, the manager shrugged and looked away.

V was gone. Her noise in its surrounding silence, her invisibility, gone. Kendra realized she was sad, disappointed really. She saw now that she had held some curiosity about the monotone drone of the woman upstairs. That she had hoped someday they would meet and V would reveal the secret that drove her ritual. But that would never happen now and Kendra turned to examine the droning rituals of her own life, imagined what the young couple downstairs must infer about her from the sounds she made.

In her slippers, she did a little tap-dance in the kitchen and laughed aloud.
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