bath |  vidhu prasann


There is a haunt in dead things that says maybe
bring your entire body through
the way water quickens things

Maybe this is wrong

Some things only look
as if they're dead

A row of dead birds
dirty white
drying on the counter

Grandmother puts
old paper towels in water
and wrings them out

more than once
wasting nothing

always more spills
more birds
waiting for water

Mother sleeps

before being
wheeled into surgery she
asked if I'd ever kissed anyone
her voice was so weak

I told her no

Grandmother places mother's clothes in the bathtub full of water
and beckons me to follow
her into the tub
our feet press out blood and tissue
water unloops the threads
lines loose their anchors and spread
she begins to sing
in her tuneless voice
a song my mother sings
in a language I don't understand
the tub turns red

My mother always sings while I read
caring little for the disturbance
though I might yell
it would be useless
as if two existences were not occupying
the same room at all
the song was nothing to me but the blank border of sound

At some moment
I would no longer notice it
would come out clean
from circumstance


If birds dissolved
into others
more torn
I'd know every word

The place in that song
where my name rises out
where lovers stare at my name
and bore into each other

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