but not ours, not now, not tonight

A white wing of curtain unfurls in the breeze.
Near midnight, with a full moon,
we climb in the tub, push off shore. She captains
the porcelain boat to the Country of Wide Senses,
where rose oil welcomes, and Handel's water music plays.
Trumpets herald our coming down the river
with balanced cups of tea and lavender. She lifts
her feet onto my chest, and I wash them.
We lean back. The wind of our desire billows.

Once, in Greece, I saw ancient tubs
of clay and stone. Beached like whales,
tubs then were deep enough for a man to sink
below with fish and eels. Invented for royalty,
but loved more by the poor for whom dirt
is a second skin, those tubs soaked bones of grief,
but not ours, not now, not tonight.

I'm lucky. Having received last rites twice,
I can still crouch in a skiff of porcelain, sail
with a woman I love who recites Marvell and Yeats,
and stroke the tattoo of candlelight on her skin.
When I glance out the window under the sail of her back,
it's so easy. There, on the tablet of sky, another poem.

[Richard Solly, 'The Bathtub', from From Where the Rivers Come]

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