Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums chang’d to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures…

The water heater burst sending a deluge of water across the kitchen floor, between the kitchen floor and the sub-floor and into the crawl space. When I am angry I quote Shakespeare. And most appropriately. My wife covered baby’s ears and left the room.Damnation and consternation… Said I, rolling up my sleeves.

Sleeve rolling is always step-one in any emergency. My bared arms reveal tattoos that only an English major would have: Robert Frost–right bicep, Frederick Nietzsche–left bicep. I have the upper body strength of an English scholar, and it shows. Picture me on the shore of Lake Michigan, or near Niagara Falls; the mist soaking my brilliant white t-shirt. It clings to my body revealing the delicious contours that only volumes of poetry could form. I power lift volumes of Chaucer, Donne and Milton. You’d pay good money to see that. White chocolate, you’d call me. Corpis christi, you would blaspheme–and you’d be right to.

Step two, I shake my head; then I reach for the phone and call the City for an emergency water and gas shut off, and begin the restoration. I used a shop vac to remove all of the water, then disconnected all of the lines to and from the water heater, leaving the cold, dead chamber. I never really noticed the water heater. We didn’t talk much and now it was too late. Alas poor Yorick, I began as I hauled it out to the garage.

Two hours later I returned with a new water heater, rolled it up the two steps from the garage into the kitchen. When most men perform their manly duties they play the classics: Frampton, Clapton and Boston, but I listen to NPR, National Public Radio. (setting out my wrenches…) That Diane Rehm is such a scream. Her theme song, “Toot Suite”, is a real toe tapper. I whistle along with Maurice Andres’ trumpet. (Set aside pile of clean rags…) Fortunately, my disaster occurred on Friday– “Friday News Roundup” where weekly news events are discussed by a panel of esteemed journalists. What a treat. (Install pressure relief valve, apply teflon tape…) Health care, Pelosi, Iraq…the panel discusses every detail. Later Lucille Clifton will read poetry form her new book, “Everything is Connected”, I hope to be connecting the dielectric unions when she does.

Everything is connected…today is when Victor Hugo was born, US forces recaptured the Kesserine Pass from Rommel’s Fifth Panzers, and Congress limited the terms for presidency.

(Attach flue…)

Step three, add water. I stepped back to admire the new water heater in evening light. Broad and yellow is the evening light, the coolness of April is dear. You, of course, are several years late, even so I am happy you are here…(Anna Akhmatova).

Final touches: bumper stickers, one from the NPR fundraiser (came with a coffee cup) and “Free Tibet” along with a quotation from Gandolf, “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.” It’s mine now.

My wife joins me, handing me a chicken salad sandwich. Then she squeezes my bicep, I’ll bet you could rip three Atlantic Monthly’s in half, she adds.Five, I reply, and a Harper’s Magazine. She smiles her wicked librarian smile, the baby is sleeping, she says, handing me a glass of wine…

M. Liebe.

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