Christine Austin Cole
Cleansed - Poem by Christine Austin Cole
I only half heard the continuous splash
Of the water falling wearily into the tub
From the far away, invisible, silver faucet.
(some distant part of me, half thought that
it sounded exactly as things do in dreams)
And I barely felt the water warming then
As it closed in around me, cradling me…
I was too busy contemplating how heavy
The book had suddenly become in my hands.
Heavy it was with voices, countless voices,
Begging, each of them, to be heard -
The New American Poets of the 90’s
Were crying out.
Wet handed, I flipped from page to page
To hear little girl Molly whisper from the chair
Followed by the sound of Li-Young’s cleaver
Contemptuously splitting her poem in two.
Voice for voice, page by page
I fell to them – listening to the echoes
Of long ago and yesterday and never-will-be.
It was Richard, I think, who first sounded like me.
(“not at all by design had I lingered”
there, half expecting the tub to overflow)
And when Richard told me that he may disappear
If he simply closed his eyes, I closed mine
To see if I would.
But it wasn’t until glorious page one fifty one
That I found Jonathan and fell madly in love
As he first rambled simple to profound
Before turning profound to something obvious.
I wondered if others had been able to hear him
Amongst the eighty nine other insistent voices
Like Norman, Linda and especially Beckian
(who used lovely half speak to smash clouds
Open like fruit, bringing finally then the rain)
Deciding it didn’t matter – I drew myself up
And stepped out of the tub, renewed.
I smiled at my reflection, knowing exactly
What I must do.
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