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Sarah Carey

Questions for the Plumber During Remodeling


Questions for the Plumber During Remodeling

After the backsplash, the soaking tub,
the countertop and the brushed nickel faucets,
can you take a snake to clear whatever drags

our water lines, our processes: teeth brushing,
bladder emptying, elimination
of the day’s waste?

Can you troubleshoot the valves, the flush?

We’ve known clogs in our homes
in towns we threw everything into,
learning every lake to kayak, every decent diner

with delivery, far too long not to imprint
the slow drain. Yet we keep knocking walls down,
second-guessing our own openness.

Last year we built an island,
explored a radiant floor. The year before,
we floated concepts of enclosures.

Plumber, before you clean the traps,
auger through whatever moves through us, the roof,
the soil, the city, set it all free

that whatever lies between us might flow again.

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Extended on memory foam,
I sink into plush.

Perhaps I sleep, or shift my side
into familiar depressions.

What would Milosz say
to see me bequeath with such abandon
my imprint to a pad,

its mimicry of me in turn
its flattery, its gift?
What ancestor, what country’s flag waves
wondering when any torture
or miracle witnessed

in a form we recognize
as having shaped us

breaks through brain cells
to beg acknowledgement,

whom we might tell? 

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Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. Her work has appeared in Rattle, The Carolina Quarterly, Superstition Review and elsewhere. Her debut poetry chapbook, The Heart Contracts, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. She works for the University of Florida and lives in Gainesville. Visit her at or on Twitter @SayCarey1.

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