Poems

Prayer Before Bathing

My six children’s
thirty-six grandchildren’s
one thousand two hundred and ninety-six great-grandchildren
thank you
whose skin is more extensive
than all the sheets of paper in the world,
whose body is broader
than all the tombs in this world put together,
and whose smooth flesh has these moles,
marked like ancient script on birds’ eggs.
Thank you for the warm deluge,
for the warm stones,
for the milky clouds of steam
behind the curtain,
for the gleaming white foam
at the edge of the bathtub.
You have turned the stones into quail’s eggs,
nested them in the warm wheatfield.
I spun the foam to make socks for my chicks
but it kept unravelling
because every morning I am a virgin;
because each time I become a mother,
the rainbow reflected on the skin –
the trace of that mutual touch – is a sign
of the covenant between us:
for each child, a poem;
for each poem, a child.
Or else I will give her up for adoption again,
this gentle bud of soap
opening like a flower in the steam.
I wash away remorse like a disease,
conceive once more.
I rinse my body with hot water,
and I feel better now,
I have recovered.

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