The Bath - Poem by Thomas Holderfield
'Daddy, what is Love? ', she said,
her flat chest unaware of future kisses.
Water dripping, flowing down blossoming curves of innocence,
each piercing green eye asked the same of him.
The only hair to be found on Heaven's unopened petal,
matted, cascaded to her knees like a golden waterfall,
unwittingly conspiring to seduce a suddenly struggling father.
Like many her age, they are not yet shrinking from their fondness for fathers.
Quaking, trembling like an open leaf before the winds of inevitability,
in the cold water she was still free from life's complications.
The washer, giver of baths in place of absent mother,
rises, knowing this to be his last giving.
There would be no baptism into experience from his hands,
no long lessons on living.
Turning, tearing himself away, he vainly tried to waken
a still drunk mother in the other room.
He saw the drugs she had taken.
Sotted, hairy and rough was the woman; now aged beyond her years,
dried up, cried plum out of tears.
Unwashed and unkempt she had lost the innocence of her yesterdays
when she too was given one last bath, but then one more, and then one more, and then...
As the father said his goodbyes and turned to leave,
the question was repeated, 'Daddy, what is love? '
With pleading green eyes repeated.
Smooth as silk,
white as milk,
her skin fitting her like a glistening gossamer glove,
transluscent, as if she did not exist except thru love.
How can something so beautiful, a miracle of creation
cause such guilt, such fear and consternation?
He, surprised at the loss of his own innocence, destroyed
by suppleness, by smoothness forever altered, could not now avoid
the sudden loss of mere routine:
the use of baths to get her clean.
The man left, passing by the next challenge asleep in the crib,
to grab the phone, calling Child Services to report abandoned daughters,
those he had hoped to teach their do's and oughter's,
having taught them to put on and take off a bib.
He had arrived at the choice that all non-lying Daddies must consider.
He now knew that he will take the right fork,
the path down which all fathers are expected to take, not dither.
Passing by her again, he was startled to see a woman aborning
behind those haunting green eyes, those knowing green eyes of the morning.
Skin flushing, mind burning
he trudged away.
A man now truly alone,
a daughter crying,
tugging at his heart,
a mother sighing,
he struggled to depart.
Passing her pale pink knapsack and matching lunch pail,
he went thru the trailer door left open for air,
now banging in the strong breeze out of no-where.
Glancing back one last time,
the wind-risen nipples,
her accusing green eyes
pulled at his will, made him pale.
So like her mother so many years ago,
butt white in the wind,
breasts like derigibles hanging over him.
Hearing the river he realized he was free,
as free as ancient hunters used to be.
A race of liars man had become
but not he anymore, not this one.
Looking inward he stepped out,
not looking backward,
into the morning he ran,
into the rising sun beaming through dying rain.
A rain that washed him and the morning clean,
But a man...
He'd left her with a look on her face
as if she were taking notes while the Universe dictated.
Her last words, heard now at a distance,
still ringing in his ears, burning in his mind, gnawing at his soul,
'Daddy, so THIS is love? This? '
'Yes, my Darling! Yes! ', he cried back.
He knew then that those grieving green eyes had lost their resistance.
Those haunting, knowing, accusing, pleading, piercing green eyes!
The further he fled, the harder it became, like hitting a wall.
Like trudging thru molasses in winter time, fixated.
He would not heed her Siren's call!
As if he were swimming, sinking, running out of breath,
he stretched for the light above.
At last, he broke thru the surface into innocence.
He saw the shores lined with millions of men while
other millions, lemming-like, leapt off the Cliff of Temptation.
All men fear death,
just as all men must choose a path.
All men fear the end of time,
just as all men must drink this wine.
Each fork's tine,
is either exciting, gaudy, but earily beautiful;
or, plain and simple.
The path of a carpenter.
Fear, tread not so lightly!
For lack of it had so nearly led to horror.
But petals were still closed,
and innocence retained.
He awoke betwixt two streams,
two worlds, still himself or so it seemed
in sunlight's beams,
reviewing countless springtime themes
looking for the one which redeems.
Some loves are too deep.
Into one's soul and mind and heart
will it creep.
Her memory as sweet as honey from the corner store,
he swims now towards that distant shore.
Her angry green eyes into his back they bore,
a condemnation of his leaving.
(mindbringer,20 July 2010)
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