after twelve minutes immersed in a tub of hot volcanic mud and twelve minutes in a bath of hot mineral water my heart thumps against the padded surface and I remember that I exist thanks to this mostly unremarked heart a thermodynamic system that chugs along blood in blood out every artery vein tiny capillary breathe in leafy oxygen breathe out CO2 and I understand with my hot pumping body that what I call self is inextricable from the body here on this table the flannel blanket absorbing particles of me as I slowly cool the New Age music bothering my sensibility like a persistent gnat the laugh track last night on the rerun of Friends the forgotten French vocabulary and Pythagorean Theorem the anxieties waiting to swarm when I return to my usual state every encounter and memory since my small hot self emerged on this planet till the engine finally stops and I cool for good and the cells of me transform into earth ash air as my spirit into yours as you read these words
(with thanks to Forrest Gander)
For which it turns out you are the cause:
here they are, flawed human beings with adult problems,
their own ways of slicing it, their own patterns and opinions,
with their own lives, their own ways of salting meat.
And helped out with grad school and they’re launched.
And endured the teenage years, and paid for college.
To swim, to read, you’ve paid for the orthodontist,
and they learn to walk.
Massages, spicy food, uninterrupted thought—
you give up nightlife, adult conversation, another hour-and-a-half