by Holly Luhning
I am drinking beer with yellow flowers
in underground sunlight
and you can see that I am a sensitive man
‘There’s something I should show you,’
Darren says, as he subs out
of his driveway pickup game
to escort me to the loo. There it was:
porcelain packed with dark earth,
studded with vermiculite stars, a two-foot verbena spike
climbing out of the bowl, marigolds sprouting
from the potted tank. ‘It’s decorative,’
Darren clarifies, and points out the functioning commode
that sits opposite of, what he terms, the toilet-tree.
Now Darren is what you might call a sensitive man.
I figure he rescued this toilet, abandoned in the alley,
plucked plants from the trash heaped outside
a greenhouse, gave them all a new home.
He’s just being modest when he says
it was a matter of practicality, the realtor gave him
a second toilet because the old one had a crack in it.
No, Darren nurtured these plants back from dry,
straggled stems, watered, fed, and read to them.
Darren steps out of the shower each morning,
slings a towel around his hips and recalls
Troilus and Criseyde’s finicky narrator,
recites “The Wife of Bath,” conjugates Latin verbs.
Soon, the plants perk up. The spike makes it past twelve inches
and Darren bestows a motto:
sic transit Gloria mundi
Thus, glory passes from the earth.
Darren addresses his lush disciples diligently;
the plants grow into confidants, offer stoic support.
After the game, Darren will admit he feels badly
about knocking a player face down on asphalt,
elbowing another in the gut. But when you’re six-four
with mad skills, it’s best if the less experienced
get out of the way.
Holly Luhning can wait until she gets home.