Hare’s Breath

Hare’s Breath


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?