Photos by Warren Dean Fulton
Photoshop recreations & unwitting modeling by Catherine Owen
Which recalls to me this prose poem I wrote some years ago, now in my manuscript Yclept:
2 inches. All the water we were allowed in the tub. My father’s orders.
Four of us, aged 3-10, bleached sugar peas in our porcelain pod, shoulders
& thighs stuck together, small buttocks dipped with water like the tips of Dairy Queen cones,
the kind we were bought once a year as a bribe following the family photo session
at Brown’s on Kingsway. We could never luxuriate. He wouldn’t permit such wastefulness.
The water wasn’t even hot, but a pissy-warm puddle we crouched in, slathering cloths
swiped with thin ridges of soap over our limbs, slapping the cotton squares against spines & knees,
damp flags of cleanliness. Our mother officiated at the bath, here squidging a comma of Johnson’s No
More Tears shampoo onto a plastered down scalp, there slopping a plastic cup of water over a frothy head in her skint
benediction. Though at the end of bath time she would drape a towel over her lap
and the younger ones would leap into that soft pocket, a plush & highly coveted moment, this
was meager consolation. Even our rubber duck was grim, its yellow promise never allowed
to bob, jammed as it was among our collective feet, moored. When, years later, I traveled to Turkey
it was to learn how to yield to water. On my first day in Cappadocia, I sought out a hammam where, for 25 Euros, a woman
wearing a white kerchief and pure apron washed me. Languishing on a heated stone in the Sicaklik as she squeezed a
cheesecloth of minty suds over my prone body, I became a child again, at least that fantasized child I had never been, who
could eat as much as she desired without a careful doling out, wear the clothes she longed for, indifferent to budget, sink
into the endless depths of hot water without guilt. Just for awhile anyway. “Cok guezel,” the woman murmured, her olive gaze
drenching me where I lay. Yes indeed. So beautiful. As the water dripped down upon me, unskimpingly, into the light.