Running

bath

As ever I begin with the toe-dip
and as ever, it’s far too hot.

The cold tap gushes,
torrential
and sputtering it creates an imbalance.
I sense it.
The shampoo leaps
to my hand, a weapon.
I swirl
and stir,
blending scorch with chill
to strike that crucial balance.

In haste I grow forgetful:
I spot the billowing
unruly
foaming monster at the base
of cold-tap falls. I sheathe the
bottle and
– breathing deeply –
use my bare hands to carve
to sculpt
and scoop the bubbles into
a blanket, like snowy mountains
atop a toasty, quieting sea.

I begin to strip,
savouring the subtle breath of
humid steam on
exposed skin.
I squint at the light:
harsh,
glaring,
disruptive. I spark a match
let it kiss the wick
once,
twice,
a fifth time. A soft, flickering glow.
Better.

I dip my toe.

I lie back, ripples cascading back
then forth,
lapping softly upon the shore
of my chest
and the base of my neck
drifts softly into a cosy nook
of warm acrylic,
of lavender vapour,
of wholesome quiet.

The first sigh escapes.

Some things are given.
But the perfect bath?
That is earned.

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