The National Poetry Review

Hannah Louise Poston

A CLEAN HOUSE

I dreamed up another
metaphor for loss,

but I haven’t learned my lesson:
I didn’t write it down,

and now it’s gone. I was cleaning
the house when it came to me.

The succulents were puckering
and lolling, needing watering—

I was switching the ostrich duster
across our surfaces,

flicking tumbleweeds
of dross from my fingertips

into the garbage, picking
at the mildew

on the windowpanes, splinters
of blotched paint lodged

in the pappy flesh under my nails.
Plush cloth mopping the loose glass.

Crack of bleach through the sinuses.
Do you want to be a writer or do you want

to have a clean house? My mother
used to say these things.

Wait—I’ve remembered the metaphor—
a vacuum cleaner

with a wrapper caught in its throat. It sings.
Something’s wrong, so it sings.


HANNAH LOUISE POSTON is a poet and essayist. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writer’s Program, and she has received residencies and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, VCCA, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Hannah’s work has been featured on Poetry Daily and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in several literary journals. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times. Her website is http://www.hannahlouiseposton.com.

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