I remind myself, as I turn the tap,
Of the masculine image of bathing,
The wild-west ideal: public bath-houses
With cavernous tubs and nearly naked
Women to bring the towels and cigars.
As if I could ever endure the smoke;
As if I could ever let someone close,
So close and nearly naked next to me.
I still take showers for cleanliness sake,
but once I’m clean and dry, I find myself
Kneeling once again before the faucet.
I lied to myself when I said I was
Better, that the shadows of last autumn
Had finally slipped from the washbed of
My mind, like rotted leaves into the soil.
Instead, I find I’m languishing, stretching
Little bits of work to weeks and longer—
Even months. So feminine to pretend
That pleasure leads to action, that languor
Can be transformed into desire, that if
I lie here just a little longer, I
eventually will want to rise again.
It just takes so long sometimes, after a
Little trauma, to learn to breathe again.
It’s so much easier to slip under
The water, to watch the little pieces
Of oil and skin swirling and floating to
The surface, to pretend that standing
water can somehow lead to cleanliness.
I’ve taken one hundred baths in fifty
Days, lying in the water, trying through
Excessive inundation to restore
The fields of memory to something green.
As if such unmanly activity
Could soak out the tiredness from my insides;
As if the bathtub faucet were a spring
Of Lethe that could soothe my troubled mind;
As if I would do almost anything
To keep myself from doing anything.