Max Sparber, Here In The Bath

HERE IN THE BATH

Here in the bath,
In a small, cluttered changing room
Shared by two,
He pulling off a gray sweater,
Me untangling a striped tie,
Both of us boys.
Both blue-eyed, brown-haired,
Ruddy-cheeked and pale,
But him from here,
And me from there.
Him grown to the sounds
Of a vicar’s prayers,
And Christmas panto,
And flat-capped farmers
With farmer voices
Herding sheep
Through the fields
Of Woolly.
Me from the west,
The middle of west,
Raised with tornadoes,
And Hebrew prayers,
And flat-voweled voices
From apple-faced folk,
All six foot tall
Or higher.

We start each Thursday
With a vicar’s prayers
In a modest school room
in Swainswick,
And then omnibus a mile
To the hot spring baths
Where ancient kings of Briton
Once tended wounds.
Where the Romans
Carved a statue of Sulis.
This is how we swim
Here.
There,
Every house
In my neighborhood,
My suburban Midwestern
Hebrew enclave,
Every house
Is 20 years old
Or younger.

Here in the bath
In a small cluttered changing room,
Off come two pairs
Of pants.
I look to him
And he looks to me,
And we, speechlessly, stupefied, note
A difference:
His skin-clad and pointed,
Like a dog or a horse;
And mine unclad and round,
Like a Jew.
And here
In this place,
This far-off, ancient place,
I had felt strange —
Always strange.
But never
Before
So foreign.

Max Sparber is a poet and author from Minneapolis. His poetry has appeared in such diverse publications as Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit, Cowboy Poetry Press, The Poet’s Republic, Three Drops from a Cauldron, and VisualVerse.org.

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