Bath – by Mary Beth Hines


Slipped from her onesie, tender-skinned, sleepy,
too small for her long name, but I never cared for Lizzie.

Young cousins, years back, used to call me Mary Bath—
at first sweetly guileless, later tinged with malice.

Still, I rather liked bath so bestowed beth on Eliza,
name with breath-soft suffix akin to birth and death.

Spare syllable to savor like salt and hot, mud and sun,
bird and ice, cat and blood and drown and tub.

As water rushes from the tap, rainbow bubbles
build then snap. Waves ripple her legs and chest.

Fingers prune. Limbs flail, starfish, stiffen.
Tongue in root, she wails a wake-up.

Newborn skin surprises palms. Her buttoned belly,
breath-fed, rises. Eggshell eyes glint baby-blind

when the steam clears, back to simple—flutter kick
through cocoon swaddle—bath, moon, milk, mother.

Mary Beth Hines writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Massachusetts. Her work appears in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Gyroscope Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Literary Mama, and MockingHeart Review among many others. She is working on her first poetry collection.

Art: "Rose Quartz" by Sandy Coomer - 16X16, acrylic pour on claybord
Statement: I saw something both tender and strong in this poem and the art needed to reflect both. Rose quartz contains gentles hues but its surface is smooth and weighted. I liked "rainbow bubbles build" and the "flutter kick" of words around the baby's name.