BATH 5 (NEW HAMPSHIRE)
By Jen Silverman
If it’s one drink, it will be two. Wisteria tangling
around your wrists. Here is where you buried your
father. Here is where you buried your brother.
Here is where they will bury you, when the
time comes. No wonder you drink yourself down
toward the earth. Home is where the shovels lie.
Earth and earth and earth. Stones crowd your sleep.
Granite and salt, sand giving birth to
the fortress where even your lovers sigh. Silent
underfoot. You dream yourself toward them.
You are foxfire, you are phosphorescent. Your
mouth like whiskey. Your eyes like whiskey.
You baptize yourself in sorrow, again and again.
You baptize yourself with bourbon and brandy.
You swim downward, fast salmon, heedless, handsome,
death is in you, it has captured your ear. You have your
father’s jaw, your brother’s chin. When you were born
they bathed your small body with their fears.
Each scar they’d earned became manifest on your skin.
Their love aches like a badly set bone. When the river takes
you, it will be no new baptism. Just that same, ancient sacrifice.
Just that rush, that rushing, and then you are gone.
(Today’s poem originally appeared in Ploughshares , where Jen Silverman was the Emerging Writer’s Contest Winner for Poetry, and appears here today with permission from the poet.)
Jen Silverman is a playwright and poet based out of New York. Her play CRANE STORY was produced off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre (2011), AKARUI received its World Premiere at Cleveland Public Theatre, and her short play THE EDUCATION OF MACOLOCO won the Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival and was published by Samuel French. She has held residencies at Hedgebrook, the Millay Colony, MacDowell (two-time Fellow), with an upcoming residency at Djerassi. She was a US Delegate for a China/America Writers Exchange in Beijing (2011) and the winner of the Ploughshares Emerging Poet Award (2012). Her creative non-fiction piece “Six Bright Horses” won the Orlando Prize and was published in the LA Review (2011). BA: Brown. MFA: Iowa Playwrights Workshop.
Editor’s Note: Jen Silverman approaches her subject with blunt honesty. The rawness of the picture she paints “tangles around your wrists.” She calls it like she sees it, sparing nothing, and in so doing gives the reader a rare feeling of eavesdropping on the intimacy of another life. That which we are privvy to as outsiders “aches like a badly set bone.”
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