Jefferson’s Baths

I took off my clothes in the dressing room
and hung them on the nail for all those skins
that one brings in from the decent world.
“No talking please,” read the sign above
the round, chthonic pool with fieldstone walls
and pebble bottom. I gripped the rail beside
the stairs and entered slowly. The water flooded
my pores with lithium, sulfur, and iron—
what Sherando called the warm good medicine.
I treaded with a float across the waters,
then rolled on my back and stared at the hole
in the open ceiling. Silence sat on top
of the pool like heaven’s clock: This must be
what it’s like at the end
, I thought, the dropping
off from the lowest stair into the warmth of a distant sea
in which we swim and fly, fly and swim, without our bodies.

Chard deNiord is the author of four books of poetry, the most recent of which is The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), which was cited as one of the top 10 books of poetry of the year by The Boston Globe. His new book of poems, Interstate, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2015. His book of essays and interviews with seven senior American poets, Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century American Poets was published by Marick Press in 2012. He is a professor of English at Providence College and lives in Putney, Vermont.
*Photo courtesy of markhillary.
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