I surprise the women
dressed in their bodies: in breasts,
knees, eyebrows, pubic
hair. Excitable children appear
to accept them. Pitted and fat, dazzling
and golden, the women
drowse under the shower, a preview of
bodies the children try on
with their eyes.
At sixty-five, I am less than
a child, whose mother walked
fearfully clothed, afraid of the water.
My grip on the towel gives me away. I move
into the pool suitably over my head
past my mother's responsible
daughter. Later, wild to learn, I practice
standing alone — only my underpants on —
under the gun
of the hair dryer.
A queen-size woman
sweetly accosts me, recommends
more clothes. Someone has pointed out
a peekaboo crack in the men's
locker room. "What a shame," she intones,
"such a nice clean
club." I loiter in my underwear
worn out with surveillance.
What we don't know
won't hurt us.
Oh, but it does deprive us!
These ravenous mermaids
stripped to their scales, swim from
the framed reproductions, pale and diaphanous
planes engineered for unmistakable
languor. Something has changed
in the changing room where we step out of
lingerie meant for the fainting couch
and bring on the body in person.