Memoriam of a Car Alarm

Kathy Elrick

It was a Toyota van, European,

I don’t know what series. Lights flashing, heard before seen,

yet you see the beast before you turn the street corner.

The ravisher of silence,

the constant reminder of being awake.

It is that alarm which makes mornings an abusive time for a clock.

This car alarm keeps time, tempo but occasionally comes in too quick,

as if it were trying to mimic the little beeps

we used to hear on the nightly news

to signify importance, or SOS.

It’s actually kind of catchy, and could be used to make a song

out of the impatient beeps, rip them up and reorganized

like they ask us to do with our attention.

But like our attention, we assimilate the sound into obscurity, a background nuisance we don’t

notice, because it’s unimportant,

someone else’s problem, a part of public traffic. Then it stops,

and for a moment, shock, but relief. Hooray it’s gone! Serenity reigns again!

But it is silence, which you become acutely aware of,

almost wanting to bring that sound back, the constancy to rely on,

a horn even to harmonize to.

Now we are apprehensive of sound and think lesser of the rumble

of trucks, the chatter of children, or the engines turning as they rev past the light. What of the

memory of that alarm? It still haunts you,

but more you don’t want to forget about it – it dies without proper commemoration. You talk of

it no more because it is a common occurrence, easily replaceable, vulgar. The beauty of the

alarm is not in the sound, but commotion the sound drives

by its waves, or what this could mean in a different context – but

known as the invasive annoyance concocted by the whizzes at Toyota,

we disregard this completely.

Euphemism Campus Box 4240 Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4240