I learn from my toilet 

That hate is a choice.

An unreliable commode

Is like a failing relationship.

It hits me at the gut level.

Between sobbing and a roiling bowel,

I’m in the bathroom for hours,

Desperate to depend on

The foundations 

I am used to, 

A toilet and a mate.

I consult with plumbers and therapists

Who dole out conflicting solutions.

I’m on my own.

The guest room lavatory regularly releases 

A dark sludge

That looks unhygienic,

Not a good impression for company.

I stop using the commode.

Roto-rooter advises me the residue is

Algae or

Encrustation from my water softening system,

Not unlike my enabling,

“Softening” efforts with loved ones

That make me a milquetoast,

Allowing insults.

They don’t mean it, I tell myself,

A grand denial

That builds a brittle barrier

Of falsehood

Between me and others.

I take revenge on The Evil Toilet:

Name-calling,

A good solution for hatred

And self-loathing.

I’m ready to trash the porcelain basin.

But I hesitate

And flush an extra time.

The pause is a choice.

An hour later, I bathe the privy bowl again.

Every time I’m near

I keep the rushing rinse going.

Over the next month

The gunk of years lessens.

The debris is almost gone.

It’s not a bad latrine,

But it requires extra care.

Unlike my partnership

That needs the final flush.

He demands an agreeable woman

Who impresses visitors

And does not speak her truth

As I increasingly do.

My toilet teaches me

To stop using nasty labels.

Hate doesn’t work.

Instead I focus on good fortune:

My union gives me a

Magnificent son.

And bestows the courage to

Scope out personal landscapes,

To find what needs flushing

In myself and others.


Cate Burns is the author of Libido Tsunami: Awash with the Droll in Life, in which she unearths the ludicrous in the emotional live traps surrounding us — in families, friends and disastrous romances. Get it on Amazon today.

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