by Carol Carpenter
Words from the Showerhead on My Birthday
Clearing of the throat:
Nagged and pounded,
straight down wet.
the meat thawed
treated on schedule,
a city decree,
a birthday trust in purity.
white, the coconut cake,
the candles’ flames
that familiar song.
red maple leaves
cupping rain. Little
birthday boats afloat,
sunk under by
tire treads rolled over
the arson spark,
the ark of pairs,
the hope in dreams
the miracle of water-
falls, the day’s beginning.
Four separate seedlings bloom their beginning –
one purple sweet alyssum close to the ground,
a squat marmalade marigold, a hot pink impatients
with a white throat, and a viola dressed
in five loose petals above heart-shaped leaves.
Above these flowers my sweet-faced,
green-limbed grandson tilts his watering can,
wants more leaves, more flowers, more
life as water pours from the spout.
Five viola petals fall ever so slowly
onto the black earth before he bends
and picks up each yellow-orange petal
and puts it oh so carefully in his pocket.
Five Women in Their Baths
The white feather of a dove. Soap
so soft against her skin, fragile
as an eggshell membrane. A splash,
a water drop from above. Another
trickle. Another hand wipes her skin.
Not a bath.
Not a bath.
Her soap dreams whimper,
rise in mist, pop in humid air.
Droplets dribble bit by bit
back onto her bony shoulders.
bones bent with the wet and heavy load.
Lavender petals lick her skin purple.
In her bath, she soaps her wet body.
Water breath whispers
promises into her cupped ear.
Water still runs. Soap slips
from her hand. From the other side
the tap, tap on the door,
the voices of her kids, the phone,
a heavy thing hits the floor,
the dog barks.
Part of her life goes on
without her. She is not
At 10, she molds her breasts with strawberry bubbles.
When such roundness floats to the ceiling,
wipes away with a washcloth,
drops into bathwater,
dissolves into her hand,
she pulls the bathtub plug.