My mom had a bath every night. Sounds of water sliding through copper pipes,
rushing out of faucets, were a lullaby. Childhood baths in hand-me-down water,
a tepid body, small enough to float. Sometimes water was my mother.
Learning to read, the door’s spill of steamy spirals, meant do not disturb.
Once a male babysitter walked into my bathtime,
cornered in a tub, cloaked only in water and pink skin.
Chilled bones and hot water medicine rattle and hum in maternal lines.
The year I lived at the cabin, no running water. Melted snow
bucket baths in front of the wood stove were enough.
The first dive into an underwater world, I resurfaced blue.
The divemaster named my mouth beginner diver’s smile,
poured a kettle of hot water between skin and wet suit, an outfit of bath.
In the town where everyone two-steps, stories of the waitress spun dark,
slipped and spit out. She told me she held her baby’s high pitches
under water, and all the ways the clay of her hard life hardened.
Courage is the mother who stayed in that small talking town,
got her baby back. The yogis say water is imagination;
you can walk across the river, leave the skin of an old life behind.