We examine the toilet, hold the ball-cock up,
determine the flapper fails to fully fall.
We put a new one in, snip off the excess chain.
The tank fills only one-third full. We lower
the chain, change the settings on the dial,
flush over and over, studying the maddening
levels until the mechanism settles into
balance as inexplicable as this life we live,
machines coming on and going off, gears
spinning like dreidels on their perfectly honed
tips, a hair’s breadth, or hare’s breath, or hair’s
breath, the metaphor long messed up,
all sense of origin gone, which no doubt explains
why we’re floating, wavering, letting gallons
of water pass through, running up the bill.
I ask you, what volume can a hare breathe,
its tiny lungs pumping carroty air? How wide
is a hair? Furthermore, by what tiny margin
did the quarks and leptons have to increase
over anti-quarks and anti-leptons to let matter
win out over anti-matter, to bring us here,
to the flushing of toilets, filling of tanks?
Poems from No Need of Sympathy