Laughing at Number Two
after Laughing at the Word Two by Hafiz
The Illuminated One
is still laughing at the way we use
the number two to pretend
our biological functions can be separated and
divided from ourselves like closing a privacy door,
shutting our eyes, or holding our breath
through our body’s release of waste. For centuries,
the world has wished the sight, smell and sound of our
animal-ness to disappear, be carried away by someone else.
Hafiz says, You are alive! If only we understood our base and
lofty one-ness while squatting over a small hole, watching a toilet
overflow, or using leaves or scraps of paper from a third
grader’s math lesson in sub-Saharan Africa. All seven
billion of us together would be laughing at ourselves
because the number two connects us, proves us One.
All the Moon’s Phases
after All the Hemispheres by Hafiz
Change toilets in your mind for a day.
Let your judgment drop 35 feet
into an earthen hole dug by hand.
Look up to the night sky from a hut
made of mud bricks.
Listen to the tree frogs sing.
Make a new water-mark on your life
without toilet paper or gallons of precious
water. Nothing is what you expect.
Like a welcomed experience,
gaze at the fields of bananas and coffee
trees on mountains and meadows.
Wait in line with women to pay three cents
each time your bladder or colon will no longer
wait to deduct from today’s one-dollar income.
Drop out of school like a girl in India
who must carry water for your family’s intimate
cleaning. Your village toilet, an open field.
Like a blooming night flower, in public
cover your face as you uncover your moon to
release the vital discharges of a human body.
Greet your animal self, no longer exempt
from the hidden tide of disease traveling
from fluids to fields to fingers to flies to food.
Return home to the easy democracy of your
own toilet, your formerly unthinkable sewer
pipes, your clean water. How can you not be changed?
Even Hafiz would say the most untouchable of your
untouchable brothers and sisters deserve health,
deserve dignity in the Great Circle of life.
Ode to the London Sewer Flusher
Dear wearer of hip-waders and breathing tank,
descender into manholes. Dear blaster of congealed
grease clogs and solidified muck poured down a drain.
Dear repairer of leaks, dear searcher of cracks
and Q-tips. Dear explorer of the maze of thousands
of miles. Dear defender of Henry VIII’s Bill
of Sewers. Oh, courageous in the face of danger –
sudden floods of rainfall and factory discharge,
methane, hepatitis, cholera, and typhoid. Dear
waylayer of death and disease, return safely
to morning light on the street above after
your nights shuffling through our confluence
of shit, denial and taboo. Bless you, my flusher,
for facing my excreta, my dark off-limits.