Where’s my gingham tablecloth.
Where’s my Michelangelo’s Naked
David apron. Where’s my garden
and my marigolds and my pink ranunculi.
Where’s my conversational Latin.
Where’s my Froggy-Went-a-Courtin’
sheet music. Where’s that dulcimer
and my training in Irish stepdancing.

I.
An overcast Monday at the Musée
Rodin. In the garden, leaves graze the Gates
of Hell, collect near Burghers of Calais.
It is after 1 PM. Edward’s late,
again. His tour group waits near the entry.
I’m sorry. Je suis désolé. Their canes
brush the marble floors, pool cues that sharply
outline space. Edward runs in, shaking rain
from his hair. He joins the other tour guides,
murmurs apologies. He takes an old
woman’s arm, blots the morning from his mind.
The couple pauses to observe. He holds
her hand to the sculpture: hands intertwined.
Gasping, she marvels, So lifelike! So cold!

From who do we get permission to fail.
From whom. Who permits these missteps.
These abandonments. Can they be lessonless,

my failures, please. The moral of the story is
missing, what do you think would happen
to the scores of children waiting for the just end,

the guilty one, banished. What has failed
in failure. What beyond expectation, beside
expectation, I mean. A falling short, shy

of. In action, then. There is the failing. The part
most often misunderstood: how acceptable
the dropped stitch is. The missed step, instep

plunging with what feels like ease, am I
right. It is easy to fall, to fail, and pleasing
and needed. Not because of anything ever after,

not in hopes of being better prepared.
You did it wrong, Failure says, and may
you falter again. Fall, turn, and now,

what to do. Feel it. You are hereby given
permission to fail. Let us be led together,
all fall, hands swallowing each other’s hands.

Are you constantly searching for the perfect vacuum,
that perfect vacuum under which your carpets will be reborn?

Do you need a vacuum with herculean suction, the perfect
vacuum for removing all evidence of human and animal presence?

This is the one vacuum for you, the only vacuum you will
ever need. It is inexhaustible, see how it sucks up this wet concrete.

These flaming coals? No problem for the perfect vacuum.
A five course meal, complete with candelabra and Irish table linens?

They are no match for the vacuum, its power and authority.
It was designed by a team of physicists, architects, and astronaut doctors.

You can put all your trust in its design. You can depend upon
the perfection of the vacuum to erase anything. Simply push the button

with your thumb, and watch as the troublesome matter vanishes.
It works on the same principles as sinkholes. Also it borrows techniques

from the jet engine, and from the undertow. This is the vacuum
of your dreams, it will solve your problems and your eyes are spared

the elimination. Look how light it is as you push it across the room,
how it helps you carry it up the stairs. This is your partner, it can keep

your secrets. Imagine how gorgeous and immaculate your household
can be, thanks to the perfect vacuum and its eternal guarantee. It will never

break, never lose suction, never implode or launch into space.
Everyone we know will be gone, and it will only be the perfect vacuums left.