Basic Hygiene by Kara Candito

There’s a fundamental difference between showering
          when it’s raining and showering when the sun is shining.
My bathroom is windowless. I have been known to pee in the shower.
                    I have never tried a golden shower. If I could,
I’d shower on a clear glass precipice overlooking the Pacific in Mazunte;
          every child in the world would swim with sea turtles;
seawater would be hydrating; and there’d been no such thing
                    as commerce or hygiene. All utopian visions
are ultimately boring. Of the four people I love in this world,
          two cannot stand one another. One cannot pronounce
my name. All totalizing statements are ultimately false.
                    Therefore, I’ll focus on particulars.
The baby is taking a nap. My husband is taking a can of Coors Light
          in a $1000 chair. This is not our house. When I said
a few lines ago that every child in the world would swim
                    with sea turtles, I meant my own and feel
now like a terrible person at a water park in heaven.
          Why did I lie? How did I lie? Whom did it serve to lie?
Learn how to lie said my father, ever the technocrat, sometime
                    in my sixteenth year. Years later, I learned
that showering with a lover is a finite expression of erotic desire.
          In the end, you open a joint account, but keep your own.
The lies were like hairs plastering the shower floor. They came
                    from my head, but they were not mine. I did not
want to see the placenta, but I wanted to be the kind of woman
          who wanted to see the placenta. No one wants you
said my mother, ever accurate, sometime in my fourteenth year.
                    In the shower, I birth a bland species of self-care
that begins with Browning’s Duke shouting We’ll meet the company below then!
          Drop the E and below becomes blow, as in I’ve responded
to your questions blow; blow deck; blow ground; blow market;
                    blow 14th St; blow zero; blow the American flag
mounted on the bed of a pickup, for beneath it two teenagers
          are fucking and nomadic E, like the teeth of a strange zipper,
slides free from B and L to test the topography of the femoral artery.
                    E says a reckoning is coming. No, not below,
beneath said my mother, ever the evangelist, to my husband.
          I was breastfeeding then and conflated all language
with leakage. Turn off the faucet, little liar, your nakedness
                    is buckling the tiles. Sometimes, I am too lazy
to towel myself off. In the bathhouse of late empire, steam
          inoculates me against truth and desire. Years ago,
I came, baroque and childless into the hot stream
                    of a golden shower. In the shower, I can be
clean and honest and benevolent, but only with myself.
Kara Candito is the author of Spectator (University of Utah Press, 2014), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and Taste of Cherry (University of Nebraska Press, 2009), winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, APR, The Kenyon Review, jubilat, Forklift Ohio, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. Kara is the winner of a Pushcart Prize and the recipient of scholarships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Council for Wisconsin Writers, the Vermont Studio Center, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.