Paulelmo's Blog

“Sick Bath”–a poem about matter, not sex

I wrote “Sick Bath” in October of 2005. I wrote it the same day that I wrote “Thoughts Inspired by Lorca.” Some people have only paid attention to certain words and phrases and thought it was a poem about sex; it is anything about that.

This is based on one of the central truths of the physical world: matter cannot be destroyed, it can only be replaced. That is important to think about when thinking about God as an atom, or all atoms; God cannot be decreased, so every atom always has to be accounted for. Atoms move to make fire, which makes ash and smoke, and the process just keeps going. No atom ever just disappears; they only go into the make-up of something different.

It’s interesting to think of the things we sometimes think of when we’re home sick alone, with time on our hands and the run of our thoughts. Oddly enough, I recall these as hopeful thoughts for me to have while I was feeling poorly and impatient to feel better.

I won’t hate you for sharing this.

I hope you have a wonderful day, my beautiful friends.

 

Sick Bath

 

I draw you high and hot,

thrusting my torso

over the edge of the tub,

to let your vapors

envelope my aching form.

I sink into you gingerly,

wincing against the intensity

of your heat.

Like fatal and tortured young lovers,

who cut each other to feel

one notch of feeling more, or

who bite for blood

to become just one iota closer—

because humans don’t hold

the amoeba’s power of osmosis—

I want to become liquid

so we can merge on an elemental level

and you can sweep my demons and poisons

down the drain with you when you go.

Matter cannot be destroyed,

it can only be replaced.

 

I lie back and let your surface

overcome my ears,

allowing myself to better hear

your ripples, the rhythms inside my body,

and the turning of the world’s gears.

I am closer to God,

either that, or

the sinus meds are kicking in.

Demons and poisons stream

in droplets down my face.

Matter is never destroyed,

it can only be replaced.

 

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