Poem: Sudden Illness

Not to worry, I'm all right . . . it's the water's gone to hell and the toilet's got but one flush.

Sudden Illness

No water, that’s just the way it is
The tap turned on with expectation
So American, but this is not America,
the spigot blindly hisses nothing

Damn, no shower, dishes go unwashed,
unshaven, the one flush already gone
The toilet becomes a silent enemy
for hours, maybe days, unknown time

True civil service, this expecting water,
heat or light or elevators up and down
Utility deprivation, reminder of a captive life,
A fifth floor jail, the sentence undetermined

So I write and try not to need to pee,
think of other things, try faucets,
betting against myself, expecting dry
and getting it, cursing as the hours stretch

A day, then two and compromise
Hauling buckets, agreeing to terms,
balancing desire against necessity
Each a minor victory over circumstance

Hand-fill the toilet tank and flush,
Stove-heated water for a shave
Nothing more than alteration of routine,
it works, I work and life goes on

Like a Christmas gift out of season,
suddenly it’s back, rusty and spitting,
then running clear and cheered at
Health regained, after sudden illness
Poetry Collection: Corner of My Mind
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman's
poetry collection

available here in print
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