December 2011

C. Bowen, Plumber

I like this guy
before we even meet.
He’s the only one
who called me back, and then
he wipes his feet
for a very long time
on the mat
before coming inside
with a little bow
and setting out bravely
for the upstairs bathroom
a few steps behind me
like a lieutenant
or a constable. I look up
“meticulous‟ after he leaves
and am startled to find
it comes from fear
in Latin. Because he seemed so
fearless, knowledgeable,
mindful of the whole long
history of flood. He was
a very good listener. “It could be
the spindle in your shower valve,
or it could be something
in the drain assembly,” he said
as he drew the bath,
then drew a wrench
from his plumber’s belt
and climbed into my tub. His entry
in the yellow pages
was the humblest
of all the plumber ads
with their splashy logos
and trite slogans. It read, simply:
C. Bowen, Plumber,
with a number
that rolled off my fingers
like an arpeggio.
He nailed it in under
an hour. And his bill
which has come in today’s mail
like a coda
is simply too beautiful
to contemplate.