Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bath (Poem)

Some time ago, while reading through a back issue of Dialogue, I ran across an essay by Levi Peterson. I was struck by the poetic potential of one moving scene in particular, so I translated it into this poem.

* * * *

Bath: A Found Poem

—Levi Peterson, “My Mother’s House,” Dialogue 24.3 (1991)

I see them now. Perhaps
it’s Sunday morning or
late at night when their kids
are asleep. She’s seven
and a half months pregnant
with their third child.

His feet rest bare on a towel.
She kneels before him
with a basin of water, tugs
at a leg; he lifts it, places a foot
in the pool; she rubs it clean,
repeats with the other foot.

Each basks in the other’s
awareness, she
overawed by the feel of his feet,
he by the feel of her hands.
As she sets the basin aside,
the ritual nearly complete,

she unwraps a towel
from her shoulders and reaches
to dry his feet now moist
from her washing, now
baptized in the basin
brimful with her tears.