by Diana Whitney

Afterwards, she drew a hot bath
with sea salt and jasmine oil, threw in
the flowers he gave her on the road—
snapdragons, milk-white and scarlet,
grown in his wife’s rich garden.
The spring poured out of the side
of the hill, spilled over the stone basin
free for the taking. She pulled over.
Eyes, hands, a glass jar of spring water.
The morning yielded to them again, a tangle
of pain and desire, high pressure system
blown in like sheets pulled off a bed,
washing the air clear, shudder
of the season turning, the gods
taking summer back and back.

What if this coveting was a gift,
not a sorrow? All she could do
was watch the wet blossoms float
glazed in tub water, lay them in an X
across her nipples and belly, how they held
their shape and did not drown. Turn on
the cold faucet and drink
from cupped palms. A mighty thirst,
as if her skin were salted. As if the stems
traced a map to a secret room
built entirely of ferns at dawn.



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