The handle of the vacuum cleaner
hung on his hand like
the ring in a bull’s nose.

Retired one week
and already he was
half way down
the main staircase
vacuuming the blood
red carpet runner.

If she knew, Rita,
his ex-secretary,
would be staring
The news would drop
like a stone into
a reflecting pond.
Was he making his
own coffee too?

How many treads?
only fourteen?
It seemed like fifty.
He descended another step
and began a clumsy Veronica
with the cleaner’s hose.

He turned off the howling machine
sought the contemplative
silence of the stairs
knelt, placed a figurative
gold coin in the dust before him
Kissed it, dedicated
the blood of the afternoon
to the mantilla of his lady.

Wasn’t retirement about
doing what you wanted
when you wanted?
He wanted to sip cool sangria.
He wanted to sail the Spanish Main
He did not want to be the
amateur matador in a corrida,
but he had no choice:
he had chosen this.

He had planned
all his working life
for retirement.
And this was it?
Vacuuming the stairs
before he changed into
the suit of lights
for his own retirement party.

Usually such parties were
surprises or so he had thought.
The only surprise about this was
the vacuuming part.
And the dusting part
And the silverware cleaning.
Pray for a quick death
he thought, in the afternoon.

Who would have thought
retirement would make
tear him like a horn
goring a passing cape.
He shuddered
he knew something
was going to have to change
and deep in his heart
he knew it would be he.


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About riverwriter

Poet, playwright, duplicate bridge player, website designer, cottager, husband, father, grandfather, former athlete, carpenter, computer helper for my friends, theatre designer, backstage polymath, retired teacher of highschool English, drama, art, a baritone singer in a barbershop quartet, who knows what else? wordcurrents is on Facebook: Doug also has a Facebook page, "Incognitio", related to his novels.
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