Ruth Stone


Plumbing is so intimate.
He hooks up your toilet.
He places a wax ring
under the vitreous seat
where your shit will go.
You are grateful to him.
He is a god with wrenches;
a quiet young man
using a flame torch.
He solders the joints.
He crawls through your dusty attic
over the boxes of doll furniture,
the trains, the ripped
sleeping bags, the Beatles posters,
the camp cots, the dishes, the bed springs,
to wire up the hot water tank.
And you admire him
as you would Saint Francis,
for his simple acceptance
of how things are.
And the water comes like a miracle.
Each time in the night
with your bladder full,
you rise from the bed.
And instead of the awful stench
of the day before and perhaps
even the day before that,
in a moment of pure joy
you smell nothing but the sweet
mold of an old house
and your urine as it sloshes
down with the flush.
And you feel comfortable, taken care of,
like some rich Roman matron
who had just been loved by a boy.

Ruth Stone, What Love Comes To: New and
Selected Poems
, Copper Canyon Press, 2008.