Everything feels wrong. Heavy. These hands do not feel like her hands. Where did the lines on her skin come from, these rivers that separate who she was from who she is? Once, she was a river running freely to the sea. Now, her feet ache from standing still in hospital rooms.
Kicking off her slippers, she walks to the bathroom and kneels beside the bathtub. She twists the faucet and runs the water until it is so hot that it steams the glass of the window. She has always associated water with clarity. When she was young, she and her grandmother would walk to the bath house on Saturday mornings, take off their starchy clothes, and sink deep into the spring water. She sat still as her grandmother scrubbed her back with soap and kneaded the muscles of her shoulder blades. This ritual soothed her mind and cleansed her soul.
Over time, those quiet moments have become harder and harder to find, but she needs them now more than ever. She removes her nurse’s uniform and lays the pieces on the floor one at a time. Slowly, she lowers herself into the water. It covers her knees, then her thighs, then she is submerged to her chin. She takes the first deep breath that she’s been able to savor in months. Here, there are no late-night phone calls, no ambulance sirens, no ringing of heart monitors.
Exhaling, she taps a few grains of bath salts out of a vial her mother sent her. The cypress scent of her childhood fills the room. She can almost imagine her baa-baa sitting beside her, tracing the lost rivers along her spine. The water soothes the soreness in her calves and eases the tension in her wrists. She sinks deeper into the bath, until her hair fans out behind her. Gradually, she relaxes into the unraveling.
Jamie Brian is a pilot and freelance writer living in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in The Poeming Pigeon, Ephemeral Elegies, and Auroras and Blossoms Poetry Journal.
The Ekphrastic Review
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