Romance and Emergencies

by Lara Frankena

It arrived in a gift-wrapped box, shiny and innocuous.
Death came with instructions, proof-of-purchase, a postage-paid,
mail-in warranty, and was acknowledged by a thank-you note.
Instead of cranking, cutting, chopping, she pressed a button.
Instead of beating, mixing, whipping, she pressed a button
and thought, perhaps too briefly, of these unquantifiable
parcels of time, little gifts from the inventors of appliances.
She had candles, of course, for romance and emergencies
but the electricity coursing through the house was a convenience,
a given, as unquestioned as her own regular intake of breath.
She had known to leave the lake when thunderclouds
rumbled in, was one of the few not to seek shelter
under the park’s open-air picnic hall with corrugated metal roof.
She had seen drawings of a boy poking a prone figure
with a wooden broom handle, separating the victim from the source.
She had noted the rubber-soled shoes of waitresses and nurses alike,
used rubber gloves while washing dishes in the kitchen.
But tonight she shakes the water from her hands after scrubbing
vegetables and reaches across the damp counter for the coiled tail
of the food processor with its three conductive prongs…