A Body in the Bathtub

There’s a dead body in my bathtub –
metaphorically speaking, of course,
but the shock of it is real

I’ve seen her before, this woman,
young, stylish – like a rising star –
her nakedness is blinding

How long has she been here, and
is she not cold: stark white skin
tinged with blue – appalling

I’d be more sympathetic, except
I’ve enough to contend with
given the plans we are making

the revolving door of visitors
and obligations and responsibility;
she’s more than I can deal with

but wait… did I detect movement,
could there be life in her yet,
I cannot tear myself away

there’s something eerily familiar
about her youthfulness – a naiveté
that I’ve long since buried

reminds me of dreams I once had –
fantasies of theater, and Shakespeare –
wanted to be the next Maggie Smith

I see it all now – the gradual sapping
of life, slashed by choices – a more
conventional route, an achingly painful

death – oh, I’ve tried to keep her alive,
dabbled in sidelines, never a priority;
you see worth is tied up in tradition

and to pursue one’s dreams…well,
that’s just self-centered folly and
I let her whither, I admit, but

I hadn’t meant to let her die
just could not bear the burden
of one more disappointment

Anger rises and I want to shake her
this embodiment of failure – how
was I supposed to keep you alive

You were an escape, that’s all
a vessel for hope and aspirations
the musings of a misguided youth

what kind of devilry is this –
you showing up now, when illness
has claimed me, and potential

wanes – are you taunting me?
Is this a threat?  don’t just lie there
mired in your own drama

face me, woman – and so she rises
like a second coming, and I see
that she is only a mirror

a reflection of myself, not disabled,
but polished, refined, accomplished
challenging me to never give up

be found dead in a pool of regrets –
a certainty at the rate I am going –
obstacles, she tells me, are illusory

success requires goals, and progress
is not defined by limitations, and if
you pace yourself, value yourself

believe in yourself, in us, then there
is time – and for a brief moment,
her image fades and I see my father

blue eyes exuding warmth, and
confidence, encouraging me on
and I understand: I am still alive…

( Image by Elena del Palacio, Untitled)

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6 Comments

  1. “…The gradual sapping of life, slashed by choices – a more conventional route.” So very beautiful! Something I can totally relate to, I try to not get caught in the rut but it is so tough convincing yourself to break away from the rat race. We really do give up so many dreams to live a conventional life that fits societal standards – pretty smiles and all but dead on the inside. Also, I love how you chose to end your poem – drawing comfort from your father’s eyes. I lost my father four years back and whenever I feel low, I just picture his eyes and that works like magic. Such a lovely read, I’ve bookmarked it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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