A Different Kind of Offering: Bathing with Gaiman by Zenobia Frost
Bathing with Gaiman:
Before reading in the bath,
I ease the book’s
jacket off. I
the steaming water with one toe
and shuffle off my own dust cover
in and under,
holding the book above my head
like an umbrella. Then, spread
with my arms leaning on my legs,
I read, turning the pages
with the tip
of my tongue.
Later, while I scrub
or shave my legs
with my right hand,
I realise I’ve gone
cover to cover (or nearly).
The fingers of my left arm sulk
and strain, and I must
balance the book on my head
to flex the lameness out (and again
till feeling returns).
Then I swap hands and finish
my story and scrubbing,
to step out clean and complete,
steeped in someone else’s
Zenobia Frost writes poetry in cemeteries, articles at a desk in a backyard rainforest, and to-do lists on receipts, bits of paper, the back of her hand, and flatmates’ spare bits of skin. She writes, edits, and types for a living, and occasionally orchestrates cabaret events that are really an excuse to drink tea. Her work has appeared in Stylus, Mascara, Small Packages, Burdock (USA), Rave Magazine, Famous Reporter, and Voiceworks, and she has performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival, Tasmianian Poetry Festival, and around Australia with the Queensland Touring Poets Program. Her debut collection, The Voyage, was published by SweetWater Press in 2009.
Zenobia’s poem, Bathing with Gaiman is one of the sixteen poems featured on A Million Bright Things.
Happy World Poetry Day
It’s called The Imperfect Enjoyment, and is by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1 April 1647 – 26 July 1680).
I put a link up to it rather than post the text here, because it’s definitely a Not Safe For Work poem. The language was rude then and remains rude now. And as for the rant at his penis for betraying him… well….
But it would make me sad if World Poetry Day was too safe, and filled only with poems that didn’t make one blink.
Neil Gaiman, I love you, and I’m not wearing any clothes.
A reply to my poem, and really beautiful:
If you think seeing a naked woman
is a disappointment
because what you had imagined was so much
better than what was there, may I suggest looking at it in a new way.
Maybe instead of pondering
the tentacles and mouths beneath
you could ponder the bright things
that lurk beneath her skin. You can look
at her glistening pussy lips and wonder,
must run through her body to create
that overflow of wetness. You can look at her breasts,
dark and sensitive and soft, feeling
in your hands like the greatest of treasures, and come
up with multiple theories as to what lies
beneath them that could possibly make them mould
to your touch and respond so enthusiastically
to your tongue.
Her body is so much more
miraculous and dream-worthy and mysterious
when naked than when she wears clothes.
The mystery has never been what might be
found under her clothes; that is just something of hers
because she thinks you to be clever. The mystery
is in imagining what writhes under her skin that makes her body move the way it does;
what worlds are inside her that create a gravitational pull so unyielding;
what makes her body a fertile ground, enough to grow the tenderness
of her gaze, the audacity of her courage, and the ferocity of her tongue.
The mystery has always been
how you plan on maintaining your cleverness
for just long enough
to convince her to let you stay
with her, there,
and naked, too, beside her.
(This is a response to a (much better) poem by Neil Gaiman about nudity. The poem is a collaboration with artist Olivia De Berardinis and you can buy a poster of it here. The art is beautiful, and so is the poem, especially if you read it out loud, which I suggest you do. It’s just that, I have never in my life been disappointed when a woman has taken off her clothes for me. I could never be disappointed by nakedness because I know the basics of what to expect, but I will never know what’s underneath the nakedness that makes the person suddenly more mysterious, more miraculous, more dream-worthy, more interesting, more perfect as soon as they’re standing naked in front of me.)