japonisme: the bath, part 1

16 July 2009

the bath, part 1


Washing Kai in the sauna,
The kerosene lantern set on a box
outside the ground-level window,
Lights up the edge of the iron stove and the
washtub down on the slab
Steaming air and crackle of waterdrops
brushed by on the pile of rocks on top
He stands in warm water
Soap all over the smooth of his
thigh and stomach
“Gary don’t soap my hair!”

—his eye-sting fear—
the soapy hand feeling
through and around the globes and curves of his body
up in the crotch,
And washing-tickling out the scrotum, little anus,
his penis curving up and getting hard
as I pull back skin and try to wash it
Laughing and jumping,
flinging arms around,
I squat all naked too,
is this our body?

Sweating and panting in the
stove-steam hot-stone
cedar-planking wooden bucket
kerosene lantern-flicker
sierra forest ridges night—
Masa comes in, letting fresh cool air
sweep down from the door
a deep sweet breath
And she tips him over gripping neatly,
one knee down
her hair falling hiding one whole side of
shoulder, breast, and belly,

Washes deftly Kai’s head-hair
as he gets mad and yells—
The body of my lady,
the winding valley spine,
the space between the thighs
I reach through,
cup her curving vulva arch and
hold it from behind,
a soapy tickle a hand of grail
The gates of Awe
That open back
a turning double-mirror world of
wombs in wombs, in rings,
that start in music,
is this our body?

The hidden place of seed
The veins net flow across the ribs,
that gathers
milk and peaks up in a nipple—fits
our mouth—
The sucking milk from this
our body sends through
jolts of light; the son, the father,
sharing mother’s joy
That brings a softness to the
flower of the awesome
open curling lotus gate I cup and kiss
As Kai laughs at his mother’s breast he now is weaned
from, we
wash each other,
this our body

Kai’s little scrotum up
close to his groin,
the seed still tucked away, that
moved from us to him
In flows that lifted with
the same joys forces
as his nursing Masa later,
playing with her breast,
Or me within her,
Or him emerging,
this is our body:

Clean, and rinsed, and sweating more, we stretch
out on the redwood benches hearts all beating
Quiet to the simmer of the stove,
the scent of cedar
And then turn over,
murmuring gossip of the grasses,
talking firewood,
Wondering how Gen’s napping,
how to bring him in
soon wash him too—
These boys who love their mother
who loves men, who passes on
her sons to other women;

The cloud across the sky. The windy pines.
the trickle gurgle in the swampy meadow

this is our body.

Fire inside and boiling water on the stove
We sigh and slide ourselves down
from the benches
wrap the babies, step outside,

black night & all the stars.

Pour cold water on the back and thighs
Go in the house—
stand steaming by the center fire
Kai scampers on the sheepskin
Gen standing hanging on and shouting,

“Bao! bao! bao! bao! bao!”

This is our body.
Drawn up crosslegged by the flames
drinking icy water
hugging babies, kissing bellies,

Laughing on the Great Earth

Come out from the bath.

Gary Snyder

“The Bath” from Turtle Island. Copyright © 1974 by Gary Snyder.
No Nature: New and Selected Poems (1992)

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Blogger Dominic Bugatto said...

Love these bather pics, a link below to a similar piece by Al Parker , one of my all time favorite illustrators from the 40's , who himself was quite influenced by japonisme. Enjoy!


28 July, 2009 17:16  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh yeah!

and that guy's work reminds me of this guy's work:


28 July, 2009 18:17  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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