The Shrine

Posted on 13 February 2010

I leave the heart of the toilet paper roll,
the cardboard cylinder, out on the bathroom
counter again. My wife finds the evidence
of my crime and insults my slovenliness.
She insists there can be nothing simpler than
to throw it out. She’s wholly unsympathetic
to the fact I get distracted because
I do my best thinking between wipes.

My father sat and sat in his own private
chamber, alone in his own foul world,
raising his thoughts to some engineering
feat or a sticky problem of mechanical
malfunction. He planned and designed
on the throne. Now eighty two,
a neighbor came over and found him
passed out on the bathroom floor, low
blood sugar. The last thing he remembers
was getting dizzy. Before he went to black,
he might have been propped up there
for days, trapped, slowly puzzling out
how to get his life some desperately needed
oil and grease before it wears down.

I, though, am quick about things during
the process of extrusion, preferring to linger
afterwards in my final triumph and in
my inspection regimen. If there are many
men who see faces in clouds, why not one
who sees the work of Picasso in
his brown period smeared across the folds
of bunched-up toilet paper?

I do not know why my mind wanders
when tasked with throwing away
the remnants of the roll. Perhaps I’m thinking
big things this week. Where else can one
think uninterruptedly, without confusion?
It is shrine and ceremony dedicated to
one of my epiphanies. Please, I beg of you,
do not reject it simply because I don’t
have the heart to rid myself of this
seemingly useless core, which
on any given day, may still have
a thousand and one other uses.

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