Exponent II Classics: One to Get Ready
Exponent II, Vol. V, No.2, Winter 1979
One to Get Ready
by Emma Lou Thayne, Salt Lake City, Utah
Out of town, on a trip,
I sat this morning in a white tub
on the eighth floor of Chicago.
Unpossessed, I ran the steaming stream
ran some more.
began to feel its watery undoing.
Stretched out full length,
my shortness shorter than the tub,
(for once no need to worry that my hair was getting wet),
I began to swell and float,
buoyant as a dolphin,
rolling over even.
How long since I had taken to a tub
on breast and thigh,
I was a child in heavy frolic,
but slower, more deliberate in my convulutions,
savoring the swish and the loll.
My plump euphoria reddened in my calves and toes,
turned my fingers into plums, then prunes.
My opened eyes loved water not their own,
and hurrying seeping out of me
like moisture from a swimming suit
hung unwrung to dry.
Some daring snickered in the echo of my ear
and I stood crazily
to face the shower giving me its head.
Ablaze, I stood and moved its plastic knob
to cold. Inclined to change,
it took its warm time coming
but then turned head on
into my seduced repose.
Cool. Cooler. Colder. Cold.
Still ankle deep in draining hot,
I took the needles in,
starting at my scalp,
the cold insistence on rising.
Gasping, grinning, half surprised
at being so alive,
I waited for the hot to go,
the cold persuasions yipping at my wayward pulse
three stories down.
How had I been so brave?
That now I stood, no water on at all,
tiny tears of melted ice bristling on my blazing skin
like droplets in a skillet
saying it is time.
I must remember when I bathe again
to take the most of hot and cold
and not let simpering sufficiency
take me down the tepid drain.