Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Tim Grgec’s Electric Kiwi

Electric Kiwi

Every day, my power company offers customers an hour of free power—
at an off-peak time, of course, so before bed
I make sure I turn on the dishwasher, get a load of washing in,
charge my laptop and phone, vacuum, and maybe,
if I remember, use the dryer for no real reason
other than to heat my towel so the winter air doesn’t slice through me

after a shower, and by then I’ve done pretty well on the savings for the night,
so I boil the jug for a cup of tea, marking the end
of the day by blowing on the white knots of steam;
and because I rushed home from work to get dinner on early
and set my alarm—as usual—for 8:55 p.m., ready to vault through the house,
there’s still time in the hour of power,
so I boil the jug again to soak the pots and pans,
put the electric blanket on and even

blow dry my hair, and I’m starting to get on a bit of roll by this point,

so I do my ironing in advance for a change,
pop tomorrow’s roast in the slow cooker and stream
an entire Netflix series
so I have something to talk about at work tomorrow; and it’s about now I’m hoping
I’m not bothering the upstairs neighbours too much,
or worse, if they’re contracted with Electric Kiwi themselves
and are saving more than I am, so I turn the shower on just to leave it running
go down to the garage for last year’s Christmas decorations

and line the fence with fairy-lights,
restart the chest freezer that hasn’t been used in years,
play my stereo as loud as it goes; and even after all that
there’s still time in the hour of power,
and I’m not a handyperson by any means but
I get the electric saw going—finally getting around to that bookcase I started over lockdown—
and as I’m buzzing away, part of me wonders if I should really write a list next time
of all the things to use and save money on

until I run out of cords and power sockets to plug into

and the whole house swells, swells;
and the only thing stopping me now is if the fuse box blows
(which my landlord wouldn’t be happy about)
but at least I’d finally have some peace and quiet,
and all the spaces would be flooded with darkness
and I could creep upstairs into my bedroom,
tracing my hands along the wall, until I’m under the duvet
and everything is still.

Tim Grgec

Tim Grgec is a writer and public servant based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. His first poetry collection, All Tito’s Children (Te Heranga Waka Press, 2021), is a verse biography of the Yugoslavian dictator Josip Broz Tito. He was the 2018 recipient of the Biggs Family Prize for Poetry.

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