Poops and Roses
Written April 9, 2012, at the Watertown Free Public Library
By Julie Greene
Picking up after Puzzle is one of those simple daily tasks that is as much a part of my life as is my habit of writing every day, and waking after sleep. I don’t ever feel repulsed by Puzzle’s poops. They are digested food. Nature takes in and gives back. Intake and output.
People talk about stopping to smell the roses. I never take this advice. I’m not a flower person. It gets to me that such a big deal is made of these blossoms that sell for hundreds at shops. The human tear is just as beautiful, costs nothing, and unlike a bunch of roses, serves a practical purpose. Tears cleanse. Tears are output. Tears express. Tears teach us. Tears can pray or cry out or speak pain or beauty or gratitude. Tears can say “I love you” every day, but hardly anyone can afford the daily expense of roses at a flower shop.
No, I don’t stop to smell roses, but I always stop when Puzzle gets into that funny position I have gotten to know so well, one that is uniquely hers. I let her take her time. Her back end bobs and quivers as she skillfully moves her stool toward her anal opening until it slides out—and then another, and another. She’s not a dog that waddles along while she poops, so her droppings don’t fall in a long trail, but rather, in a single pile.
Sometimes, a stubborn last piece gets stuck to her, and refuses to fall as it should. She waits, but not very long. She favors Plan B. She twists around, and in a flash, snatches the thing as a tasty appetizer.
Humans don’t do this. I question our sense of superiority when we say these acts are disgusting and done by animals only, thereby defining ourselves as so-called civilized, that is, distinct and separate from Nature. Perhaps we have gone so far that we can no longer do something as simple as poop without pills, enemas, and surgery, coupled with the obsession that the toilet as well as the colon must be kept spotless. I question why these private areas that no one ever sees must be cleaned raw while we pour our waste into precious wetlands. To me, being civilized means not only caring for the planet and my surroundings as best as I can, but capturing and holding onto the understanding that I as human am part of Nature. I have input and output. (I have my ugly and disgusting side, too.) I’m a contributor to the goings-on, a member, an adult.
I kept two flip-top Baggies in my right pocket and one in my left. I used the one on my left first. I stuck my right hand in the Baggie as far as it would go. Then I used my right hand, protected entirely by plastic, to pick up all the pieces of poops. With my left, I turned the Baggie inside-out, shook the poops to the bottom, and twisted the bag shut. I gently placed the warm bag into my left pocket, and forgot about it until we arrived home. At our parking lot, I tossed the poops into the dumpster, and never saw them again.
After this morning’s walk with Puzzle, I had the occasion to walk into the hallway trash room. Someone had tossed out a bunch of withered flowers. Perhaps they were left over from Easter. This was the day that Jesus rose from the dead. These flowers were not roses and were well past rising ever again. I wasn’t going to stop to smell them, or stop to smell anything else in the trash room. Sadly, I also saw cans that hadn’t been recycled, empty glass bottles, and even bottles that could have been returned to the store for money. One of these days, I’m going to get very uppity about recycling around here.
But I didn’t stop. It wasn’t time to think about the cycle of trash, which was already dead, not now while I was still living. I slipped back into my apartment. I sat on my couch. Puzzle, who was usually tired after her walk and meal, trotted up to me, and hopped up onto her rear legs, sliding her two front legs to the right of me on the couch. She twisted her back toward me, exposing first her side, and then, bit by bit, her chest and belly. Her hair under her was so sparse that I could see her pink skin clear through. I petted her over, and over, and over. And then, when I was done, I bent over, and touched my nose to her chest. I stopped. Then I inhaled, deeply.
Note: I love this essay, but due to its TMI subject matter, I doubt anyone would want to publish it.
Note also: I changed Puzzle’s diet in May 2012 (a month after writing this essay) and it’s been ages since she’s engaged in “Plan B.”
Note also: This essay illustrates a handful of Unitarian-Universalist Principles. I’ve just come to realize this.
Note also: Photo not included. Perhaps the reader is appreciative.