After the desert, the light hurts.
I feel drugged.
The sores on my hands take
at least a week to heal. I cannot sleep.

I just assume a woman makes the sound.
I don't know why. It's just an assumption.

I leave the windows open, and the balcony doors,
at night. It doesn't help. I creep around,
in the dark. I sit
in the dark, and stare. I know where everything is.

Most of the time, I can sleep through the sound.
Sometimes, I lie awake and listen. Over the years,
I admit, I have listened.

Once, there was a storm.
I watched the tree between our buildings
split. I knocked on every door.
Down the block, a transformer exploded.
I saw a woman there, behind the door
where the sound comes from,
but I don't think it was her.

Sometimes, I try to imagine the way she is moving (right now,
over there, right now), from the pattern of the sounds.
Sometimes, I try to picture what she is trying to clean,
from the tone of the sounds. Furniture. Walls.
Hardwood floor. Fabric. Cloth. Cloth most of all.
Why cloth?
She likes to use the hose without attachments.

The woman before her was a screamer, but that was years ago.
Over and over and over and over. That was years ago.

Late at night, when the sound is there, a single bulb is on
but it can't be more than forty watts.
Her windows are blocked by a quilt, not curtains.
I have never seen a shadow.
I have never seen inside.

JDP 2001/10

The Sound:

Vacuum [69 KB]

Copyright John D Porter © 2001

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