Diane Wakoski

Showering Behind the Zodiac’s Curtain
September 16, 2011 Wakoski Diane

Showering Behind the Zodiac’s Curtain


When blue hangs around me, I am
a bathing nymph, part of Diana’s rosepetal
lyre of girls from a Titian poesie canvas.

Like a wedding ring, the zodiac encircles
the King of Spain’s finger, and each morning he
touches my face awake
with Aquarian waves.  Those Diana stories
Actaeon, Callisto –
are about a Goddess’ cruelty,
not really about the beauty of chastity,
or the sanctity of abstinence;
but when I bathe naked and alone each morning,
behind the navy blue shower curtain, imprinted with gold
figures of the zodiac, I look
at my old body
and know that all my youthful
cover me, clothe me with age’s
cobwebbed skin, my belly swollen as if
I were illicitly pregnant,
and the sight of my own nakedness strips me
of any goddess qualities I might
ever have possessed.


Note: Though Titian painted very few secular paintings, he planned an unfinished suite of six, what he called, Poesie, using mythological subjects.  Two of the finished paintings, Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, portray in the first painting Diana and her nymphs seen naked by the hunter Actaeon just before Diana punishes him by transforming him into a stag, which his dogs then hunt down and kill, and in the second painting Diana undressing with her nymphs and gesturing to strip the pregnant Caliisto, whom she will then cast out.


Diane Wakoski, born in Southern California, graduate of UC, Berkeley, began her poetry career in New York City (1960-1973).  Her selected poems, Emerald Ice (Black Sparrow) won the William Carlos Williams prize (1989, PSA). Bay of Angels (Anhinga Press, 2014) is her newest collection.  She has retired as University Distinguished Professor, from Michigan State University after 37 years, and lives with her husband the photographer, Robert Turney, in East Lansing, MI.