Plumbing Canto 5: LUST

My toe















Bewildered, my reaction comes too late.
A piece of paper hits me in the face.
I try to peel it off, the wind inflates

the picture printed on it. Then I place
the image. It’s Page Three, a topless shot.
from countless building sites, disgraced

I throw it in the wind again to rot
and try to think of something else instead
Now Patrick says: “That thing you’re thinking: STOP.

Eject that daft idea from your head.
‘Confessions of a Plumber’s just a film.
No sexy client wants you in their bed.

But just in case you think they one day will,
you need to meet a chap who thought the same.
We’ll find that man in Satan’s hellish kiln.”

I’ve seen a fair few things while rodding drains,
but never seen a hardy plumber cry.
And this guy wouldn’t even say his name.

I asked him what he’d done, and so the guy
began to tell me all about the wives
of clients that he’d shagged and said goodbye

by leaving them to face their shattered lives
and husbands, children, littered in his wake.
And sure, it takes two people’s sexual drives

to start a fire as people tend to take
advantage of the momentary surge
forgetting all the jetsam in the wake.

But anyway, his punishment was merged
with what he did in life; and so
it’s punishment that physically hurt.

“But what does it consist of really though?
I can’t help noticing your lack of clothes…”
I try to cope by staring at his toes.

As hard as it may be, the lack of clothes
is part of punishment, as every pain
is multiplied across his skin, he groans:

“You know when one day after touching drains…
you catch a stomach bug and diarrhoea…?
…and every hour it all begins again…?”

“And THAT’S your punishment?” I scratch my ear.
I know that feeling well, the pain it brings.
“It doesn’t really sound all that severe…”

“But constantly, and also other things.
You know when cutting copper pipe that thick?
The cutter leaves a burr around the rims…

…that cuts your skin in semi-circle nicks…
…and flux gets in it, stings, and makes you scream..?
…but everywhere, and even on my…” “Really?”

“Well, yes, it worse than all your foulest dreams…
..And plus… you know when crawling through a loft..?
that’s barely room enough, and hit the beams…

your head and shins and elbows battered soft…
while insulation made from fibre glass
and dust gets in, your mask keeps knocking off…

it leads to rattling in your lungs that lasts
while constant rubbing makes the whole thing worse…
…and glassy fibres scratch you up the…” “Right,

I think we should be off…” His tone is terse
“You know the times you’ve trodden on a nail..?
without your steel-toes boots on, and you burst

with anger, throwing tools around and hail
expletives just because you’re tired and ache
from running up and down the stairs and rail

against the bleeding radiators, baked
to death for hours, then drained to freezing cold,
then going up the loft again, you’ve raked

your back across a batten, feeling old
and bent and tired…” I try to sidle out
and still he talks. His eyes are closed and cold

his voice becoming fainter, I go out.

Copyright 2014 Michael L. Radcliffe

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