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July 2013, vol 9, no 2

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Susie Utting

The Bath

that tranquil buzz
at play
hour before bed

I test the water, blood warm as my elbow, safe as breast milk.

I love the amber gleams stuck like sleepy bees in Pears Baby Soap and I lather up my daughter's plump two-year old chicken thighs and I threaten Pop her in the oven for dinner but she laughs slides from my grip beneath the sea.

Her brothers splash up their flotilla of ducks to the deep end.

I love this time all three sitting like shiny lotus position buddhas calm from the warm seeping into them leaking away bumps, bruises from swings and playground friends and each other.

I see the day leave their bodies as the flannel croons a wake over necks the ducks left to bob away together.

I watch their silky limbs and seaweed hair float underwater in the shallows.

I pluck them up one at a time bubbles streaming through gummy mouths and bundle them on the mat.

Together we pull out the plug and peer over the rim. Which way would ...

the water suck
drag us down

in a hook of tide