January 22, 2011

Kathlene Postma

FOUR WOMEN IN A HOT TUB

We lowered ourselves in, our suits
stretched by fat that had collected
all winter like sediment. We smoked
pot and someone said something

profound, but it wasn’t me. I rolled
like a detached fetus in the water
and wondered about the electrical
wires that ran beneath us like veins

that don’t age so much as blow out.
One woman said all she still wanted
was fame but we knew it was
too late for her.

Let’s talk about something
happy, she said. No calamities
in China or women getting screwed
or chemotherapy. She went first.

She said her son had made
a friend after being alone all
school year. The next woman said her
backyard had caught the first

light after weeks of rain. Her children
were illuminated as they dug in the mud.
The next said she opened her door to find
a kind letter from a man she

left ten years ago. The last woman
asked when did happiness
become merely a reprieve?
Like a blizzard letting up

after a night on Everest? Or an iffy
remission after chemotherapy?
In the hot tub we slid laterally. We circled
to the right so we each got a turn

with the most brutal jets that would, time
willing, break us out of our
skin and into something larger and
more forgiving than ourselves.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010

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