THE WATER’S FLOW
The second toilet in the office bathroom flushes again and again and again like it’s trying to swallow the building or jump from its porcelain body. Or maybe it just wants to send our bodies, our lives off to be cleaned, to be sanitized. Who really knows what a toilet wants besides the toilet itself. It’s the only one with an insistent swirl, swirl, swirl that pulls, twists, dances for more. Maybe it knows something the others don’t. Maybe it senses there’s more to send to the sewer, to the water treatment plant. This close to the lake the muck and the guck are cleaned, baptized, purified and released into the water for a new go around in fish gills and boat propellers. You eat anything from that old lake and you might be eating a part of yourself long ago released and cleaned, set back into the world. Isn’t that the way it all should be? Take the bully’s words, the bruises, the broken hearts, the lost fortunes, the lost babies, the grandmothers’ last breaths, the guilt and shame of being touched in the wrong places, the burned houses, the ripped dresses, take it all and set it to the sewer to be treated, to be purified and set free. Send it back to the ocean, the lake, the river to be used again. This time maybe better, maybe as the stuff that cleans the junkie’s soul, the dying fire that brings two bodies closer, the wind that tickles a child’s face, a new love’s laughter, the leaf crackle that opens a heart, the handshake that turns to friendship, the old teacher, the Buddha spirit calling the poets home spring after spring after spring to set fire to the wild darkness that holds us all.
Move in with your mother. Pay her electric, gas, and water bills. Take her keys. She will hate you for this. Give her an allowance to buy groceries and soap. You are the oldest and the only daughter; she is your responsibility. Buy a cemetery plot; it will be needed. Buy thick toilet paper to wipe her ass. This is how you watch your mother hooked up to a ventilator. Don’t get married. Don’t have a child. This is how you wash her underarms, her breasts. This is how you see your body’s future in her pouching and sagging skin. Wash her hair with baby shampoo. Don’t get the shampoo in her eyes because she is still strong enough to fight you. Her dentures are stronger than real teeth. Pay for her medicine on your credit card. Listen to her hate your father. Don’t ask your brothers to wipe her ass or bathe her. Don’t ask them to sit with her. Wipe the white drool from her chin. Feed her with a baby spoon. Buy a good blender so that she can have pureed steak and mashed potatoes every once in a while. Forgive her dog when he mauls your hand because you upset her. Hide the ice cream from her. Put the sugar and salt in the top cabinets because osteoporosis has shrunk her. Listen to her stories about people you don’t know. Feed her candy colored pills seven times a day. This is how you change her soiled sheets at 2am. Turn her every three hours to prevent bedsores. This is how you hold her hand. Tell her you love her because you should. Because you are a good daughter. This is how you buy flowers and a pine wood casket.
LACIE SEMENOVICH is the author of a chapbook, Legacies (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Zygote in My Coffee, Kansas City Voices, Jet Fuel Review, The Ghazal Page, Leveler, Muddy River Poetry Review, and elsewhere and has been nominated for the Best of the Net. She is currently at work on a collection of ghazals and a collection of speculative flash fiction.