There is an urgency with which they write and call,
starting after work, about the seven boxes
of laminate flooring that somebody—but not me—
is giving away: free free free!!! The flooring is somewhere
in Sacramento. I have their names and their numbers.
Their inquiries range from casual—“Heyyyy my name’s
Jose do you still have the boxes”—to formal: “Good evening,
I am interested in the laminate flooring posted
on Craig’s List…” Some take a pleading tone—“if you still
have the flooring, I’ll come and get it right now ???”
One even says, “I need flooring desperately!”
A lady named Dee writes a careful, warm message
signed, “Thank you very much.” Linda writes twice. Ed seems
pretty chill: “I can take those off your hands.” They are in
Fair Oaks, Folsom, Citrus Heights. They are ready
to come and get all seven boxes of laminate flooring
tomorrow morning, tonight, right now. They’ve been ready
since yesterday, and they don’t know why they haven’t yet
heard back from me. They are friendly, cordial, they have learned
my name from my voicemail greeting, so they say, “Hi Chloe!
Hi Carly! Hello Cleo! Hey, Cole.” I can hear Cassandra’s
kids in the background. Everyone so full of hope.
Everyone thanking me in advance. I go to Craigslist
Sacramento and find my listing. I ask the person
who really is offering seven free boxes of laminate
flooring to please, please correct the phone number
in the ad, so that at least one of these fifty-two people
(so far), of whom I’ve become quite fond, even
protective, might be able to have what they wish for:
gleaming new floors. May we all catch a little
free beauty sometimes. May at least one of our earnest,
desperate, hopeful calls be rewarded with bounty.
With gifts unearned and earned. With free laminate
flooring, enough to make one room, at least, like new.
Chloe Martinez received the MFA for Writers from Warren Wilson College, the MA in Creative Writing from Boston University, and a PhD in Religious Studies from UC Santa Barbara. She teaches on the religions of South Asia, at Claremont McKenna College. Her poetry has appeared in journals including the Normal School, the Collagist, and Crab Orchard Review, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.