Thursday, August 5, 2010

I can't fix it

Today, I am going Garrison Keillor on you. No, not by cracking jokes about Lutherans - ha ha ha! Here is a poem that I think summarizes exactly what a house of one's own means for StraightMan and me, esp. in this summer of repair.

It is "Handymen" by Cornelius Eady, published in The New Yorker on October 8, 2007:

The furnace wheezes like a drenched lung.
You can’t fix it.
The toilet babbles like a speed freak.
You can’t fix it.
The fuse box is a nest of rattlers.
You can’t fix it.
The screens yawn the bees through.
Your fingers are dumb against the hammer.
Your eyes can’t tell plumb from plums.
The frost heaves against the doorjambs,
The ice turns the power lines to brittle candy.
No one told you about how things pop and fizzle,
No one schooled you in spare parts.
That’s what the guy says but doesn’t say
As he tosses his lingo at your apartment-dweller ears,
A bit bemused, a touch impatient,
After the spring melt has wrecked something, stopped something,
After the hard wind has lifted something away,
After the mystery has plugged the pipes,
That rattle coughs up something sinister.
An easy fix, but not for you.
It’s different when you own it,
When it’s yours, he says as the meter runs,
Then smiles like an adult.

BTW, we have this poem taped to the wall of our kitchen, right above the light switch for the basement, which as far as I am concerned is a place that contains things that certainly are vital, but also leak and rust and crust over...

Like my colon, I want to be able to take for granted the working condition of the nether parts of my house. It is bad news when they call attention to themselves.


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