Something in the House Was Beeping
Thank you for your ignorance, it said.
On my orders, my husband dismantled the coffee maker.
I toppled boxes of old insurance forms; I threw
cotton sundresses over my shoulder
like salt for summer's spilled luck.
Am I getting warmer?
No, it said, pre-, post-, and cold beep, beep
from the utility knife drawer or
secretest pleats of the linen closet.
From smoke alarms I pulled perfectly good batteries—
batteries with something still left
to contribute. The clock radio
wore a fright wig of wires
when I was finished with it.
Dusk pulled night's covers to its chin.
Ants, oblivious, divvied up the season and carried it off,
crumb by dumb crumb,
while the screech owl that last spring aspired to eat our puppy
sat like a Buddha on the telephone cable
contemplating what was, by then,
one throbbing murder in my new dental work, the other
one distant and forlorn as my lost
first communion watch.
Does my husband drink too much red wine in the evenings?
Will I ever be capable of genuine closeness
A beep is a germ, a wink, a ticking intimacy, an auditory
pill to take for nerves
if you can take it—nerves ending and nerves beginning
all over again.
Where are you? I shouted at the air.
I'm in the backyard, my husband called. You should see the stars!
A truck in my brain backed up, beeping.
My sandbag heart banged against the upright bars: I was
in this alone, trying to pry open my son's PlayStation 2 with a pair
of toenail clippers. My handsome son,
who no longer bothered to hide his face
when he rolled his eyes at me.
What specialist, what exterminator could I call this late
to solve the problem of my authority
over nothing? What would it cost me?
Then, nothing. Silence—
complex, baffling, as though
a once-bright beast, a shaggy, munificent god had turned
a cold shoulder to the whole
lousy property, and I turned fifty.