Step Three, because steps one and two should be as easy
as the breathing you're trying to get away with skipping
as you lie there liquiform, in repose any obscure grave
would envy. let the water skim your tender ribs,
up your neck, up your cheeks. let it caress the curve
of your bottom lip and the bridge of your nose like someone
who loves you, like you are the finest
silk, woven strong enough to stop arrows — but even water
and its delicate warm hands could ruin you.
Step Four, tilt your head back. feel each rib fly outward
into the chill of the air as the water retreats over your body's
archway, door to the cathedral that houses all your relics.
ignore the porcelain pressure at your crown,
the thumb of your tub bearing down at your head.
inhale, deep. feel each of your buttresses bow under the weight
of God pressing down on the roof from above.
the water will creep down the plane of your nose and arc
down across your eyelids as it closes them and wavers, tracing crosses
over the relief of your forehead. when it settles and reaches
back toward your lips, silent and desperate for you to accept
the wafer of it on your tongue, do not open your mouth.
keep the steeple of your nose vaulted to the off-white sky
of the Kingdom of your bathroom ceiling.
Step Five, exhale. hard.
Step Six, slip back down into the Eden of the water. force air
from your lungs like drowning in reverse. take care to not spill the water
over the side of the tub—there aren't enough towels in your tiny apartment
to mop up this newest flood—but go quick. if you move like water itself
then maybe it will ignore you, pretend you have always belonged
instead of recognizing the bell tower of your throat and flooding it.
Step Seven. hope you're alone when you launch out of the water,
nose burning and lungs starving.
(next time, for sure, amen.)