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Simple Instructions
Judith Heron

My teacher today, unexpectedly, is the repairman
at the vacuum cleaner shop. I go in for replacement bags
for my old Kenmore. He wants to see my machine,
to know if he can repair the broken hose. He laughs
when I tell him I have been using duct tape, asks me
if I understand what vacuum means. Tells me even
a pin-prick can reduce the function. Says he used to place
the hose in his pocket and run it like that to show people
the wasted effort of using old equipment. But you can
push it around that way if you want to. He smiles.
There will be many stories. His son is an engineer.
Works hard. Is prone to grumble. He teaches him
about the fruitless use of being sad. How people do not
want to be around you. How loneliness then creeps in.
Tells him, no matter what must be done, do it smilingly.
He reaches out his hand, pats my arm on the counter.
Says even bad news can be made good by a kind touch.
I have paid nearly one hundred dollars for a used hose
for my twenty year old vacuum. And for his stories.
© by Judith Heron.
Used with the author’s permission.


Judith Heron lives in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Though full of prairie blood, she has always lived on the west coast. Since semi-retiring from a family counseling practice, other poets have inspired her to take her writing more seriously. Judith’s work has been published in a number of retreat chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane, and in two anthologies: The Murder of Crones (Ptarmigan Press, 2007) and The Wild Weathers: a gathering of love poems (Leaf Press, 2012). She has work in Poems from Planet Earth, forthcoming from Leaf Press in January 2013.

Post New Comment:
Good poem! That's the kind of shop I look for. Mostly run by immigrants. They care about their work. They take the time to talk. Thank you!
Posted 12/11/2012 11:13 AM
Smilingly is the key, I, too, believe. Wonderful poem and message.
Posted 12/11/2012 07:28 AM
Love this poem--and the lesson "about the fruitless use of being sad." Hard not to be sad sometimes, though.
Posted 12/10/2012 05:38 PM
Larry Schug:
I love the idea that everybody can be our teacher. Good job of expressing that sentiment.
Posted 12/10/2012 05:20 PM
Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Posted 12/10/2012 04:33 PM
wendy morton:
This story. Your kind touch. Lovely.
Posted 12/10/2012 12:30 PM
David Fraser:
Hi Judith, An interesting encounter. It is interesting how many of us muddle through with old inefficient stuff. When the student is ready the master will come. I like "My teacher today".
Posted 12/10/2012 12:21 PM
I love this poem! It's a beautiful sentiment...
Posted 12/10/2012 10:26 AM
A perfect morning surprise, Judith,as I set out to replace an old washing machine. Finding the blessing in an ordinary event. Elaine :)
Posted 12/10/2012 09:19 AM
I love this poem. Donna
Posted 12/10/2012 09:14 AM
I enjoyed this unique poem. I like your description of his vacuum hose demo, how we are at choice. I love "even bad news can be made good by a kind touch." Your poem was my teacher for today. Camille
Posted 12/10/2012 09:05 AM
I like the gem hiddenin the middle: . . . He teaches him about the fruitless use of being sad. How people do not want to be around you. How loneliness then creeps in. Tells him, no matter what must be done, do it smilingly. . . .
Posted 12/10/2012 08:43 AM
Stacy Maddox:
This sounds like a true story from real experience. I love it when I meet people who make it worth my while to listen to their stories and make a dull day seem brighter. Very unique piece - Thank you for sharing this today!
Posted 12/10/2012 08:01 AM

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