52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

29. Vladimir


Vladimir brought the sponge to the bath,
where his infirm mistress sat, soaking 

with the water and the salts. He knew
she wouldn't want his help, 

so after he handed over the sponge, he sat
on the stool next to the clawfoot tub,

and resumed the reading he'd begun
before his errand: "It was about 

two o'clock in the day, and I was forced
to remain broiling in the sun without 

either tree, shrub, or any other shade 
to shield me from its scorching rays,

until night, when Dick (the cook)
came in with the camels."

The lantern gives weak, warm light.
Irena moves her body to wash her arms 

and shoulders. Sound of water splashing
on the gunnels of the tub accompanies 

Vladimir's voice. They do not speak
about what will become of the horses,

nor of the trees, the furniture, the heirloom silver.
"The wind blew as is usual in the night,"

Vladimir reads aloud. Irena, in the tub,
can feel the water's warmth ebbing away.


1 comment:

[CMD] said...

Quoted text from __An authentic narrative of the loss of the American brig Commerce : wrecked on the western cost of Africa, in the month of August, 1815__, by James Riley.