Natalie Solmer: Special Feature
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.