Taking Baths  

Copyright © Lee Ann Mortensen 2002




I drink beer and listen
to the water move around me.
I watch my belly and its Peridot piercing rise.
I watch the comical hairs from my pubis rise
as I breathe.
My ankles, my ass, my tattoos immersed
in warm clearness
as if something like tenderness were happening,
watery fingers calming me like Valium,
feeling up my most aging places.
I drop my head under.
The silence hums at me,
a liquid voice soaking into my hair.
Saying, “Yes.”
Saying, “You are the freak I might be in love with.”  

Ok, so it’s only H2O
and the echo of my movements off tile,
my skin wrinkling with the loss of its oils,
my mind collapsing into the reality of her words.
“We’ve really always only been friends anyway,”
she said in the therapist’s office.
It took her 5 years and $100 to tell me this.
“Oh,” I said. 
I stared at the distracting books on the wall.

Dealing with Depression Naturally
by Syd Baumel.
At the Root of this Longing
by Carol Lee Flinders.
Necessary Losses
by Judith Viorst.
I stared and wouldn’t speak.
What is there to say with such airless words
snapping around the room?
What is there to do
except drink and take baths?  

I pretend the obvious, that this liquid warmth is a body
rolling around me,
laughing because we’re having fun.
That’s what bathing together means,
having fun,
and we haven’t had fun for months,
maybe years,
and I smile,
and the water smiles back,
and asks for a sip of my beer.