Alberto Rios

Me Showering
May 13, 2012 Rios Alberto

Me Showering


I am showering, which isn’t much in itself

Though I imagine it otherwise: me, naked,


Who would not want to look at me? I think,

Waggling at the mirror before stepping into the stall.


Some part of me sloughs off, carefully washed,

Maybe more of me, a gang of me, a choir of me,


Me, onto the floor of the shower and then dizzied

Into the drain, not straight but by moving around it


First, like a dog about to sleep.  But this is a trick,

Closer to pushing the drive-in merry-go-round,


The circling more the gyre of a hawk’s

But without the intent or the eye, a simple drain-around,


Movement itself giving focus, swirling finally

To the moment when a washing machine is loudest:


Then the drop, the stop, the movement downward

Altogether, this part of me, these parts of me


Pulled by the torque and by gravity and by curiosity—

It’s me, after all—into the drain and down it,


Into the pipe just underneath,

Then into a pipe that connects, then into a bigger


Pipe under the property, leading to the street, to the place

Behind and underneath those grates you can see in the street.


There I go, swept in this underground stream, swept

Together with so many others, this small drowning, swept,


Bumped by every leaf and bone, by candy bar wrappers,

Held stuck for minutes in unnamable sludge corners.


There I go, and yet here I am.  Maybe it’s days now

Since I left.  Where am I?  I am in two places, now—


I am the me who stepped out of the shower

And this voyager in the streams and pipes,


The sailor who now finds more water but can barely stay afloat,

Moving underneath the land, through more pipes and civic facilities,


Moving to a gray-water golf course—me, playing golf, or rather

Me where golf is being played,


Then me lifted up into the air by the wind

When the course dries a little in the afternoon,


This me lifted and pushed away, and pulled, and lingering,

A jazz thread in the lower atmosphere, a speck tango


Of time and place and motion, some faraway saxophone player

Mixing it all up, mixing me up, so that I am simply in the wind,


In the music, in the air, on a tree and then another tree.

And then what happens next we know: I walk by.


The other I.  Having showered and dressed, having lived my life—

The other life, the one where I shower and dress—


Having moved into days and weeks and not missing myself,

Not thinking I was shorter or thinner or lighter or dancing,


I did not know.  And now, when I walk past myself,

I do not know.  I try to call out to myself, one to the other,


Certain I’ll be heard, my voice now the scent of creosote,

The thin natter of a grackle,


My voice a curious glint of light, me suddenly everything I like

In small measure—all of it me trying to explain myself


To myself.  The world is made of me, one of us thinks.

The other gets in the car and drives off, singing to the radio.

Alberto Álvaro Ríos is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir.  His books of poems include, most recently, A Small Story About the Sky.  Ríos is the recipient of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walt Whitman Award, the Western States Book Award for Fiction, six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction, and inclusion in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, as well as over 250 other national and international literary anthologies.  His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music.