Coughing, egging on a sneeze
my hand yanks the handle
of the upright vacuum cleaner.
Back and forth. Back and forth.
I detest this chore, am allergic to dust.
The music of the back and forth, the sucking,
speckling noise of tiny things tumbling
inside the mouth, into the machine’s belly
is like the feeding motion of a sea urchin.
I keep vacuuming underwater.
Flying out the back of my suction,
maybe sparks, then fire, a comet moving
back and forth through a cluttered heaven,
across the dirty rug, over the sea floor.
Joy McDowell is a poet from the southern end of the Willamette Valley. Her work is included in three chapbooks. Four of her poems appeared in the anthology New Poets of the American West, edited by Lowell Jaeger, who was recently named the Poet Laureate for Montana.