Bath 5---Jen Silverman
If it’s one drink, it will be two. Wisteria tangling
around your wrists. Here is where you buried your
father. Here is where you buried your brother.
Here is where they will bury you, when the
time comes. No wonder you drink yourself down
toward the earth. Home is where the shovels lie.
Earth and earth and earth. Stones crowd your sleep.
Granite and salt, sand giving birth to
the fortress where even your lovers sigh. Silent
underfoot. You dream yourself toward them.
You are foxfire, you are phosphorescent. Your
mouth like whiskey. Your eyes like whiskey.
You baptize yourself in sorrow, again and again.
You baptize yourself with bourbon and brandy.
You swim downward, fast salmon, heedless, handsome,
death is in you, it has captured your ear. You have your
father’s jaw, your brother’s chin. When you were born
they bathed your small body with their fears.
Each scar they’d earned became manifest on your skin.
Their love aches like a badly set bone. When the river takes
you, it will be no new baptism. Just that same, ancient sacrifice.
Just that rush, that rushing, and then you are gone.
Why I Believed, As A Child, that People Had Sex in Bathrooms--- Cecilia Woloch
Because they had seven kids and there wasn't
a door in that house that was ever locked —
except for the bathroom door, that door
with the devil’s face, two horns like flame
flaring up in the grain of the wood
(or did we only imagine that shape?)
which meant the devil could watch you pee,
the devil could see you naked.
Because that’s where people took off their clothes
and you had to undress for sex, I’d heard,
whatever sex was — lots of kissing and other stuff
I wasn't sure I wanted to know.
Because at night, when I was scared, I just
climbed into my parents’ bed. Sometimes
other kids were there, too, and we slept
in a tangle of sheets and bodies, breath;
a full ashtray on the nightstand; our father’s
work clothes hung over a chair; our mother’s
damp cotton nightgown twisted around her legs.
Because when I heard babies were made from sex
and sex was something that happened in bed,
I thought: No, the babies are already there
in the bed. And more babies came.
Because the only door that was ever locked
was the bathroom door — those two inside
in the steam of his bath, her hairspray’s mist,
because sometimes I knocked and was let in.
And my father lay in the tub, his whole dark body
under water, like some beautiful statue I’d seen.
And my mother stood at the mirror, fixing her hair,
or she’d put down the lid of the toilet
and perched there, talking to him.
Because maybe this was their refuge from us —
though they never tried to keep us away.
Because my mother told me once
that every time they came home from the hospital
with a brand new baby, they laughed
and fell in love all over again
and couldn't wait to start making more.
Should this have confused me? It did not.
Because I saw how he kissed the back of her neck
and pulled her, giggling, into his lap;
how she tucked her chin and looked up at him
through her eyelashes, smiling, sly.
So I reasoned whatever sex they had, they had
in the bathroom — those steamy hours
when we heard them singing to one another
then whispering, and the door stayed locked.
Because I can still picture them, languid, there,
and beautiful and young — though I had no idea
how young they were — my mother
soaping my father’s back; her dark hair
slipping out of its pins.
Because what was sex, after that? I didn’t know
he would ever die, this god in a body, strong as god,
or that she would one day hang her head
over the bathroom sink to weep. I was a child,
only one of their children. Love was clean.
Babies came from singing. The devil was wood
and had no eyes.