vacuum cleaners
the most profound invention of our time

nothing else
can clean carpets
and at the same time
convert all floor surfaces to lava

adults, of course
gain immunity during puberty

but children must scamper
from chair to table to chair
while the vacuum monster roars,
the floor a boiling sea

I still bear burns
from age five
when my foot slipped,
left heel seared
on deceptive green shag

the vacuum is tamed
in my hand
the carpets cool

yet the mottled scar
tightens as I age

Zetetic separator

—Beth Cato is the author of The Clockwork Dagger (a 2015 finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel) and The Clockwork Crown from Harper Voyager. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.


2 Responses

  1. Links to Start September |
    at ·

    […] When you were a kid, did you ever have issues with the floor turning to lava when the vacuum was turned on? I have a poem at Zetetic about this common childhood plight: “The Reason I Limp.” […]

  2. Barstow – Zetetic
    at ·

    […] and The Clockwork Crown from Harper Voyager. She previously appeared in Zetetic with her poem The Reason I Limp in September, […]

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