I'm taking a bath. Imprinting my rubber ducks. Again. (I suspect they're suffering from early onset Alzheimer's. I just can't get a Physician willing to give a diagnosis. Liability issues, no doubt.)
When I notice. My knee is no longer submerged. Leg hasn't moved. Knee no longer submerged.
Now calf. Now entire body. I am lying in the tub. And I feel naked.
My bathtub stopper has stopped stopping.
The bathtub stopper has two responsibilities. Stop water from escaping down the drain. Prevent snakes and other amphibians from rising out of the drain. On the latter my bathtub stopper has Hall of Fame numbers. In the year and a bit since owning the stopper no snake or amphibian has gotten through.
A little over a year. And the stopper has stopped. Stopping. Of course I wonder. Was it my fault? I worshiped that stopper. Kept it in a cup of water so it wouldn't crack. Put it by the window so it would have lots of light. Read it poetry. I read my bathtub stopper poetry. Anna Akhmatova. Rainier Maria Rilke. Prince. ('When Doves Cry' makes Seamus Heaney's 'Blackberry-Picking' seems like MC Hammer's 'U Can't Touch This')
I should've listened to my friend Kay. Whom I call K. Because she seems more like a K than a Kay. She cautioned me against that stopper.
At the hardware store. In front of the bathtub stopper rack. She wanted me to consider other stoppers. But I couldn't take my eyes off that stopper. It had a certain je ne sais quoi. I thought it would last forever. It said so on the package. 'The Last Bathtub Stopper You Will Ever Need'. K now disputes the claim. She says I was reading between the lines. "There aren't many lines on a bathtub stopper package," I say.
I'm lying in the empty bathtub. Shivering. Picking up a new bathtub stopper seems like climbing Everest on crutches. Insuperable.
But I have to do it. I have to.
For the ducks.