“An Afternoon with Hoover” by Susan Estabrook

Susan Estabrook


I take him out of the closet because it’s time.
I lug him across the floor;
his old parts creak.
If he could just think, it’d be,
“I’m too old to do this every week.”
He’s lucky that’s all I demand.
So I drag him to the middle of the room
and uncoil his cord,
gently unknot the cable from
the hooks on his shaft.
I locate the open receptacle on the wall
and insert his pronged end;
he turns on quite easily.
And then we begin.
My hand guides him back and forth,
back and forth,
across the dirty carpet,
sucking up and rejuvenating,
making new.
I find comfort in
the noise he makes—
a rasping, chortling, not-quite hum
as he lifts and beats
at the same time.
Back and forth,
back and forth,
inside the table legs
outside the couch
exploring under the chest
rolling over dust devils
probing unseen reaches,
humming, rasping.
My hand tires, as his old moves
aren’t what they used to be.
So my body gets into it.
My thigh pushes him forward,
his handle dug deep in my pelvis
sweat dripping between my breasts
from the effort.
We retreat to the bedroom,
repeating the action.
Back and forth,
in and out,
over and under.

And then it’s time for more.

I bring him upright and
he shudders.
I pinch his bag,
testing its capacity,
and he shudders again, as if
knowing what’s coming.
I go to the closet and bring out
the long, snaky, ribbed hose
which extends his reach as far
as my needs require.
My fingers probe the roundness as I
guide the tapered end
to the receiving mouth on the body
where it fits so perfectly.
He turns on again now
we reach a new height,
and strive for more.
I twist him and pull,
stretching him to his ultimate,
pressing the issue and not letting
him rest, allowing no leeway in the
satisfaction I must receive.
Pulling and pushing, my hands,
my thighs, my pelvis
his hose in the mouth
where it sucks up whatever
is in the way.
Reaching, always reaching
nearing completion
until finally,

we’re finished.
It’s over.
He chugs his last and turns off,
sitting idle,
spent and smoking.

After a minute, I remove his prong
from the open receptacle,
wrap the cord around his shaft, and
put him back in the closet, where he’ll stay
until I need him again.

from Rattle #9, Summer 1998


Susan Estabrook: “I always write ‘undecided’ in the blank marked ‘occupation.’ A former TV writer turned fiber artist, I currently live in Salt Lake City.”

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