On Showering

by Drew Hemmert

Days gather in the roots
        of my hair—the salt of them,
the sea—and I must send them
        underground, to the rust-
crowded lattice of pipes
        we buried there like instruments
of music unfinished,
        and so I leave my clothes
on the bathroom floor,
        crumpled like bats that fell
asleep midflight, and the water falls
        from the showerhead and I say
thank you to the water
        that touches me and does not judge
the way I survey the bed
        of my body,
does not judge this new
        width around my waist,
or how compulsively
        I search out the skin tags
that have been with me
        so long they might as well be
old ticks turned flesh, and I say
        thank you to the nameless
skin cells sloughing off,
        which are also me, I say
thank you to the lost, long hairs,
        pressing them against
the shower wall like a broken
        word scrawled in a broken cursive,
and I hate to waste anything,
        every night the television
threatens the end, the desiccated
        reservoir of its empty chest,
I know men and women
        could drink this water
I choose to stand in
        longer than I need to,
thinking of everything
        that must be done before sleep
catches me again in its rip
        current, thinking of a woman
I love whom I stood with
        in this same shower
and saw her with my bad eyes
        wash herself, and as the water
carried off our deadfall
        and our sweat she watched me
in a way I never thought
        anyone would and called me
beautiful, beautiful, I am
        sorry for daydreaming,
I am sorry for feeling
        sorry for myself, I step out
clean, I say thank you
        to the water that washes
what I once was down the drain.

DREW HEMMERT is a sixth-generation Floridian living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various journals, including The Cincinnati ReviewThe Greensboro ReviewHunger MountainThe Literary ReviewPoetry NorthwestSouth Dakota Review, and Tar River Poetry. He earned his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and currently serves as an Assistant Editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal.