Sunday, January 25, 2015

One-Year Contract



In keeping with the apartment theme from last week: 


One-Year Contract

Two armoires,
A fireplace,
A stucco kitchen floor,
And an English garden—

What extravagance
In a suburban apartment,

Especially in comparison
To our last cramped place.

We’d have the first floor—
The owner, a lovely
British woman, lived
On the second level.

The downside:
One heating system for both spaces.

The upside:
She left town each weekend.

We signed the one-year contract
In summer, and placed clothing
In the armoires and my desk in the
Corner to write grad class papers.

The first weekend on the patio
Squirrels dropped apples on our heads,

But the dahlias, in every size and hue,
And butterflies brightened our spirits.

The humidity was incessant—
No matter how many times we
Scrubbed, the mushrooms
Returned in bathroom crooks.

Come fall, the wasps marched
Into the living room to die.

Come winter, the fireplace
Released plumes of tar smoke.

We did not control the heat—
She complained it was too hot.
I washed dishes in my winter coat,
Typed papers wearing fingerless gloves.

My breath came out in cloudbursts
In the bedroom ‘til we bought a space heater.

She complained about the electric bill.
We broke our lease two months early.

With a baby on the way,
There was No Way we could stay.
The lovely landlady was in her garden,
Which was  returning to its former glory.

She sighed and said
She didn’t know why tenants stayed only one year….





74 comments:

  1. Well done.

    Thanks for coming by to visit my blog.

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  2. Wow. Very vivid, T. What a landlady. Sounds like a woman I used to know. As a matter of fact, I think we've all known someone like this. The ending is wonderful. Love it.

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    1. Robyn, the landlady didn't have a lot of $ and she really relied on the rent. I felt bad for her while I was miserable and cold.

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  3. "The first weekend on the patio
    Squirrels dropped apples on our heads,

    But the dahlias, in every size and hue,
    And butterflies brightened our spirits."

    My favourite lines placed almost in the middle of everything, mayhem and blessings
    Have a nice Sunday

    much love...

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    1. Gillena, I'm glad you liked those lines. That kind of summed up the place!

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  4. Ah.. this sounds like an apartment from hell.. very vivid.

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    1. Björn, it was a (mostly) fine apartment in good weather. I have a feeling all her leases began and ended in the summer!

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  5. She had no clue, huh? Odd, usually old people like it really hot.

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    1. Alex, the problem was the heat worked much better in the second apartment than it did in the first. So if we asked her to crank it, she'd hit 80 and we'd be in the early 60s.

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  6. I lived in a first floor apartment years ago. It was separate from the rest of the building since it wasn't part of the lobby. I'm glad there was an iron safety door in addition to the front door. At night I heard people trying the door--even when I left a light on. Another place I lived in had the thermostat controlled by the building since it was all tiny studios. It was always freezing.

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    1. Medeia, after that apartment, I swore I'd always have control over my heat. It's a misery otherwise!

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  7. Oh! the joys of apartment living! You would think that the landlady would try to find out why tenants only stay one year.

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    1. Anne, I think she knew about the heat, but she couldn't afford to do anything about it.

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  8. An apartment that one needs to be free of for sure. A one year contract is enough. Interesting where the prompt took you quite creative.

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  9. Lovely imagery, Theresa. I'm impressed that the prompt took you in such a different direction than one would expect.

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  10. Sounds like you created vast universes and great works of art out of the dust mites , spider webs and sense of confinement , like Fellinis "A beautiful life " ...good one

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  11. This was especially interesting to me as a loft apartment dweller! But I love it up here.

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  12. the landlady should have lived below you! My goodness I would have moved too- especially with the mushrooms...I bet you are in a better place now!

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    1. Kathe, I would've been happy for the trade. Yes, I'm in a much better place now!

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  13. Very well done. Best wishes to you. :)

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  14. Your mind certainly fluttered in an interesting direction for this prompt...

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  15. I love these poems you are posting. They are so beautiful and allow me to be a voyeur in your life. Thanks for doing that.

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  16. Mushrooms in the bathroom would be pretty strange, but an English garden might be pleasant. I can understand why you left after fulfilling your contract.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Arlee, the mushroom were weird, the wasps were bad enough, but the cold winter was the last straw!

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  17. It's a mystery, just like the stucco floors(!).

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  18. I love your use of details, especially the lines describing the owner's nitpicking complaints. People like that are always convinced that everything is everyone else's fault but their own, and they're usually wrong.

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    1. Neurotic Workaholic, I think, unfortunately, not everyone is meant to rent their places. They have to be willing to put $ into it.

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  19. Gosh, I like this continuing story, it feels as if I've slipped into a novel and am getting to know the who and what of what's going on.

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    1. Karen, thank you. I'll have to see if the rest of the places I've lived can come out as interesting and poetic.

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  20. Love this, Theresa! I can totally imagine it, squirrels dropping apples on your head and all! :)

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    1. Susanna, the squirrels were so wasteful! They'd take one bite and dump it. The ground was littered with these hardly-eaten apples.

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  21. This is a place I would like to live...

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  22. We had squirrels who did that too - you'd think they'd finish the whole apple!

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  23. You paint such a vivid picture here. I could really imagine myself there.

    =)

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  24. This is awesome. I feel like I am there!

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  25. You took me there and I packed boxes with you ready to move. A wonderful write Theresa!! :-)

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  26. Great poem, I miss having a wood-burning fireplace. :)

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    1. Me too, David. We have one now... and it works much better!

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  27. I live in an apartment but thanks God the landlord is very nice, accommodating and doesn't charge me for water consumption. Such a nice and vivid poem.

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    1. Marites, I'm happy you have a nice landlord and living situatation. Thank you for you complimentary comment.

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  28. Sounds like a rough almost year! Very vivid writing. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks, Jess. We spent years dealing with quirky apartments. I think this one was the toughest.

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  29. I was there, Theresa! Great job. Long, one year for any tenant.

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    1. Thanks, C Lee. In many ways, it was a long year.

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  30. Love the poem! Thanks for dropping by my blog for Blitz Day.

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  31. Thank you, Zan Marie. Hope you liked the Blitz Day love.

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  32. I've been blessed with good living arrangements pretty much my whole life so I'm really thankful for that. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  33. What an experience! Well done, lots of good imagery, I can picture it well.

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  34. The English garden sounds beautiful, but not so much the cold. I like how the poem ended though ...

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  35. Great poem! It reminded me of my apartment days. Apartments are usually where we live when we're young and starting out--so we tend to look back with nostalgia on those times.

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    1. Stephanie, I'm still nostalgic about our first one. This one, not so much.

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  36. I have such a clear image of your apartment and the emotions tied to it. Beautifully done, Theresa!

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  37. Reading a poem like this makes me wish I could write poetry well. You gave readers such a vivid image of that time in your life. Very well done!

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