The entire household suffered.
My wife, myself, the two children, and the dog
whose puppies were born dead.
Our affairs, such as they were, withered.
My wife was dropped by her lover,
the one-armed teacher of music who was
her only contact with the outside world
and the things of the mind.
My own girlfriend said she couldn’t stand it
anymore, and went back to her husband.
The water was shut off.
All that summer the house baked.
The peach trees were blasted.
Our little flower bed lay trampled.
The brakes went out in the car, and the battery
failed. The neighbors quit speaking
to us and closed the doors in our faces.
Checks flew back at us from merchants —
and then mail stopped being delivered
altogether. Only the sheriff got through
from time to time — with one or the other
of our children in the back seat,
pleading to be taken anywhere but here.
And then mice entered the house in droves.
Followed by a bull snake. My wife
found it sunning itself in the living room
next to the dead TV. How she dealt with it
is another matter. Chopped its head off
right there on the floor.
And then chopped it in two when it continued
to writhe. We saw we couldn’t hold out
any longer. We were beaten.
We wanted to get down on our knees
and say forgive us our sins, forgive us
our lives. But it was too late.
Too late. No one around would listen.
We had to watch as the house was pulled down,
the ground plowed up, and then
we were dispersed in four directions.
– Raymond Carver, Where Water Comes Together with Other Water
Leave it to Raymond Carver to stop your pity party RIGHT in its MOTHERFUCKING TRACKS. I was all ready to tell you all about the various things that have been happening lately, a big old pile of stuff of things breaking and going wrong — hail damage, rotten sewer lines, raw sewage in the yard, bee stings, disappointments en masse — buuuuuuut I’m feeling pretty positive about the world at the moment after reading this poem. Is that a weird reaction? To be all “whoopededoo!” after “But it was too late. / Too late” ? I think it proves that despite my best efforts, I am an optimist. I mean, as gross as the raw sewage was, it wasn’t mice. My stepfather felt sorry for me and cleaned the bathtub with bleach, after all. (Later, it came up in the yard. There was a field of toilet paper that I ended up raking up into a pile and shoveling into a garbage bag … as a school bus drove by.) (But I would take being a “toilet farmer,” as gorjus called it, over bad brakes/no water/bad checks/sad everyone/broken everything/”Too late.”)