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

past holding,


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,

cheek down?

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.

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