During Bath

by Cathy Park Hong

Cathy Park Hong

I am an old man in my fantasies, a darting pupil, a curious ghost.

Two catacombic bodies: legs, arms, salamander
tongues, their skin is fair.

Sometimes they are in a field colored by autumn,
a garden knitted by cabbage, stakes of fat tomatoes.

Sun that marks their leonine shapes
the scent of pink cunt and lemon verbena.

Now it is just me in a large room with all the dolls
I used to own, stacked like bags of flour.

Or I am in the bath, taking the shape of Marat.
My arm slung over the ledge like iced fish,

water that is less warm, a sideshow shadow,
my own darker skin.

The tongue to mid palate. Coiled to the back of your teeth,
tighten your throat muscle. Utter a low pitch, exhale.

There is no room to exhale.

My parents did not dare moan, not even breathe for fear
of waking their children.

Palpitation, cyst, polyp: the parts of skin that are not
discussed; much more accepted is skin as cartography.

Why is it only words that I think of?
It is not my hand that touches his face, but a hand,

the mark on his face that does not last a second
though I want it to singe.

To first write the words:
undressed, blueprint, revolver.

Return to the bath: the loaves of my breasts, navel,
blood rush. I am not anemic. Repeat

rose, paen, fuck: to first write the words.

Last updated December 12, 2022