Natalie Solmer: Bathtubs I Have Rented
Arno Smit

Arno Smit

Bathtubs I Have Rented

 

In the bathtub the outline of my long thigh

muscles—my adulterous grandmother’s

Germanic legs. I think of her bicycles, her

volleyball, a lover named Raleigh. Her thick Silesian

breasts, my breasts overflow from the cups

of my hands. I went to my baby daddy’s bed again

 

last night, though I swear I can’t love him. Hate

is love overflowing, they say. This morning

I bought thigh high stockings for someone else.

And now a wind is flinging sticks at my brick apartment.

Great grandmothers toss leaves at my window.

Dead relative secretary, I used to call myself.

 

I once lived in a small town and worked its dusty

grocery. In the floral department, I wiped

each tropical leaf in a circular motion and twisted ribbon

into bows, pinned corsages. I sat behind the green

counter and stared at the ancient beige phone, caught

words out of the air and scribbled on order forms.

 

Children with no shoes came in to buy candy. Their parents

were immigrants working at the plant where they slaughtered

hogs—cut and packed them—the only industry

except the state mental hospital that hadn’t left.

I had seen its Gothic stone arches and shivered, delivering flowers,

not knowing my great grandmother died there. My uncle spills

 

what my father wouldn’t—Look at the photograph.

I was terrified of women with gray eyes. He says,

Your real great grandfather was an Austrian gardener.

He says Adultery. I knew nothing, living in a converted garage

down the street from her dead schizophrenia. My neighbor

knocked at my door, shirtless, carrying beer with him.

 

I heard there was a new girl in town. Men started showing up

from neighboring towns to meet me, but I turned them away.

I preferred the quiet of my bathtub—its curious robin’s egg blue.

From the tub I watched the sky through the cracks in the blind—

a sky of fighter jets and funnel clouds. When need overcame me,

my ex drove up from the city, his truck filling the gravel driveway.


Natalie Solmer is a florist, adjunct English instructor and mother. She received an MFA in poetry from Butler University, and her work has appeared in journals such as Cimarron Review, The Louisville Review, Willow Springs, Tinderbox, and forthcoming from Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She lives in Indianapolis, but was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana and is the granddaughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe. She is currently (and always) researching their secrets. See more of her work at nataliesolmer.com.