Decreation: The Vacuum

The house is so quiet now

The vacuum cleaner sulks in the corner closet,

Its bag limp as a stopped lung, its mouth

Grinning into the floor, maybe at my

Slovenly life, my dog-dead youth.

I’ve lived this way long enough,

But when my old woman died her soul

Went into that vacuum cleaner, and I can’t bear

To see the bag swell like a belly, eating the dust

And the woolen mice, and begin to howl

Because there is old filth everywhere

She used to crawl, in the corner and under the stair.

I know now how life is cheap as dirt,

And still the hungry, angry heart

Hangs on and howls, biting at air.

In Howard Nemerov’s poem, The Vacuum, the element of decreation is very present. The speaker of the poem describes how empty and lonely his life is after his wife has passed away, comparing her to a vacuum in multiple occasions. He must associate her with the cleaner, possibly because she used it a lot when she was alive. He references how the vacuum cleaner has an empty lung, possibly referring to the cause of death of his loved one, or simply just to make it obvious that she has died. The overall tone of the poem is depressing, but captivating at the same time. In the last two lines, there is a clear depiction of decreation. The speaker states that even though people know they are dying, they will hang on as long as they can because of fear.

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