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Sunday, September 24, 2006


Asthmatic Aladdin

I haven't posted any poetry in awhile. Here's one about my son.

My son flushed a binder clip down the potty.
I don’t know when or why. One day
he ransacked the desk drawer and toddled
into the bathroom carrying the clip
like an anchor. Flushing, a new skill, a joy,
pull the lever. Listen to water giggle and slide
down that hole. When I was young I imagined
an evil genie lived in the toilet. Each flush,
the noise and rush of everything, might rouse him
from that kink in the porcelain—the one I followed
with my hand at night when asthma came.
My parents ran a hot hot shower then sealed the room.
I’d lay alone, on the bath mat feeling the cold
porcelain bowl and kink with my hand
while the mirror turned white with steam, my breath
caught, my pipes clogged. My son’s turned
two. I’m told asthma’s not likely anymore.
The auger I bought won’t hook the thing he flushed.
We’ve no shortage of binder clips and don’t miss
the one now trapping paper and sludge so my wife
must traipse across the house each night.
I also try sulfuric acid. No kidding.
The label warns do not inhale, and application
Requires inverted bowls to catch the fumes.
It takes a plumber finally. But he is kind
and quick. The binder clip makes him laugh,
still shiny after acid and water. You’d never know
it slowed our flushes so long. “Did you do this,
sweet boy?” the rugged man asked my son, tussling
his hair with a clean scratchy hand. The toddler smiled,
looked away, then giggled and slipped into his hole
of a room, waiting for our hope to summon him forth
conjured again in puffs of joy and destruction
that always fulfill our wishes.

HillCountryWriter Category: Poetry
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I like the "my breath
caught, my pipes clogged" line, and the connections you make between asthma and plumbing. By the way, I wish your plumber would come unplug our shower drain!
PS. Found you via RLP.
Thanks for the comment--especially on my poetry.

RLP is a good guy. Editing his work is one of my favorite parts of this job.
Mark, Your poem reminded me of watching my own son’s chest caving in unnaturally as he gasped for air. Steamy bathrooms did little for him and too often he’d end up in an ER, under an oxygen tent, getting a painful gamma globulin shot. The most memorable trip was when the adjacent bed was occupied by a flailing, cussing, incoherent patient in for a drug overdose. Life isn’t fair, but my story has a happy ending. God answered my prayers, my son survived his ordeals, and now is one of my greatest blessings. Shep

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