The Kettle on Floor 16

Anna Mukhtar

There is a kettle hissing in an apartment
In room 1603
That sits upon a flame
That grows and grows.
It is locked behind a door
In the apartment building.
There is a girl who passes by
Feeling hairs rise on her arms
From the drilling, endless noise
Yet still lingers
To take a picture
Of the door that procured
that awful sound.
She hangs the picture up
As a poster by the lobby door
Telling everyone about
The building’s terrible noise.
She walks away, head held high
Thinking of her altruism
In fixing what is wrong.
Later, she cries
After seeing far more posters
Hung up down the street.
There is a man who sees the sign
He has nothing in his arms
But the leftover french fries
From boy in pristine white sneakers
And a leather jacket
Who had insisted on taking a picture with the man
Thinking his generosity must be shared.
The man hears the screaming
And thinks not of the flame,
Or the water that threatens to boil,
But how much he wishes
He could have a kettle for himself.
There is a woman who sees the sign
In heels that wobble under her step
with slick hair tugged back harshly
And brown skin that gleans
Under the sun’s harsh glare.
She wonders why she should care for
the people on this side of town
When their children refuse
To play with her’s
In the smaller public playgrounds.
She walks away
The clack of her heels in harmony
With the cries of the kettle.
The kettle continues to scream
Until the manager walks past
The poster
The boy in the leather
And the little children
He slips his phone into his pocket
(free of calls from the various tenants)
Simply curious at the noise.
It takes five minutes
To use the master key
To let the kettle
Be free from it’s torment
Gen Z watches the kettle
Privileged problems overblown
Solutions overlooked
And the needy overshadowed.