The water tingles in luxurious waves,
the brush of fur against glass
and the odd contented purring.
Your cat speaks to you with her
liquid eyes, and as you brush your
wash cloth over the fleshy places
under your arms, the nails flex and relax.
You don’t want the cat in her usual place
where the heater fans her hair
and her tail curls around her legs.
You tell yourself the cat doesn’t understand
about clothes and exposure, and only pulls
in your robe to prepare a bed.
The cat daintily crosses
the cold white tile and crinkles
her whiskers at the steam
as if challenging you to splash her, to throw her in.
Babies drown in bathtubs,
pink hairless heads bob, facing down
and you’re terrified of your nakedness,
and the paws, clawless, groping for your face.
Maybe it is your sagging nipples that remind you
of long dresses and the darkness of kittens
who teeth at your fingers, the babies whose lips were pressed
against your soft flesh.
Perhaps it is the cat’s indifference as she leaps
from the bathtub edge and scratches
at the door that reminds you
of the emptiness of your own arms,
covering goosebumps, waiting for those others
that will hold you, sinking you deeper
into the red slash of a razor and what you
wanted to do, could have done.
First published in Cream City Review
Also appeared in the chapbook, Ghost Walk