Our daughter Eleanor died on the 21st April this year.
“Civilisation is the distance of humanity from its own shit.”
I don’t know who said that, but I do know that I disagree with it.
Yes, yes, like others I was grateful for the WC and the sewers.
-In Rome as well as to bits of history like the Pope, they run tours
To the Cloaca Maxima, the big drain that fed by small ones took the poop
Out of the eternal city. We want rid of it but don’t ask where the gloop
Goes after. We feel the same about all our waste whether
It’s plastic bags or oil rigs, which adds up all together
To using the planet as a rubbish tip. But it’s the excrement I
Want to write about. Anyone who’s cared for a baby has plenty
Evidence of the connection between shit and love. We are disgusted
But also tender as we clean the child no matter how lavishly it’s crusted
With the stuff, and I also know from working in care homes, where wiping
Bums is as routine as giving pills, that in spite of our professional griping
We knew that God was with us: “ubi caritas et amor deus ibi est,”
Where there are care and love, God is present. Maybe that was the best
Work I ever did, in that part of God’s kingdom which is shared
By people who are not scared of shit, whom no government has ever cared
To pay correctly for the most important task in the world. I’m still
Part of that communion of saints, savage warm and humble
People who get no medals or applause, but God approves them.
The civilisation of heaven is not far from shit because it loves them.