“Marriage”, “The Bath” by Dede Cummings
I am not the cause of your misery
I am peepers in springtime in the dark pond
I am footsteps and shadow approaching on the dark road
I watch for salamanders but none of them are crossing on this dry night.
I measure my steps, and I count my dreams:
I am driven home by drizzle, by children.
A small vase of crocus blossoms
you left on the cutting board this morning
reminds me of what we once had.
A mother untangles her daughter’s hair.
In the bathroom the light is soft, but cold
New York City chamber of light on a cloudy day.
This is one of those moments the mother wishes
the accident had never happened; that it did,
lies deep under the pores of her daughter’s gleaming skin.
And they both dread the next step:
the ukiyo-e bath, the ritual rinse and spray
of heat from the shower. Hands share a tattered
facecloth, rubbing the drying skin that flakes off,
and is born away through a thousand drains.
Dede Cummings is a writer and commentator for Vermont Public Radio. At Middlebury College, she was the recipient of the Mary Dunning Thwing Award, attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and studied with Hayden Carruth at Bennington. Her poetry has been published in Mademoiselle, The Lake, InQuire, Vending Machine Press, Kentucky Review, Figroot Press, MomEgg Review, Connotation Press, and Bloodroot Literary Magazine. She was a Discover/The Nation poetry semi-finalist and was awarded a partial fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Dede won the 4th annual Homebound Publications Poetry Prize for her collection To Look Out From (April 2017).