Archive for the ‘“The Fan”’ Category

The Fan

By Barbara Sweeney

Grating cucumbers into an icy bowl,
I notice the blades of the fan
spinning black with soot
and long, sticky sweeps of dust.

It is hot here.
Our air is measured in particles.
The Windmere table fan has never spun
as long as it has this summer,
which has worn out its welcome
and simmered long into October.
The fan whirls black
with what we must be breathing.

The cucumbers drain
while I clean the blackened blades,
remembering how I used to sit with my face
in front of my parent’s Toastmaster floor fan.
If you spoke or sang into the fan
it made a sound like frenzied gargling
that you could alter by pitch,
low, or high,
until you arrived at a kind of strangled scream
and someone from another room would shout, “Stop that,
and get away from that fan!”

I reassemble the Windmere,
place the setting on “high”.
With my back to the hot kitchen
and my face up close to the hum,
I consider how the cool promise of a regular life
has blown right past me.
From behind their grid of safety,
the clean spinning blades are mercifully quiet
as they circulate this imperfect air.