We don’t want visitors, we said:
They come and sit for hours;
They come when we have gone to bed;
They are imprisoned here by showers;
They come when they are low and bored–
Drink from the bottle of your heart.
Once it is emptied, the gay horde,
Shouting the Rubaiyat, depart.
I balked: I was at work, I cried;
Appeared unshaven or not at all;
Was out of gin: the cook had died
Of small-pox–and more tales as tall.
On boor and friend I turned the same
Dull eye, the same impatient tone–
The ones with beauty, sense and fame
Perceived we wished to be alone.
But dull folk, dreary ones and rude–
Long talker, lonely soul and quack–
Who hereto hadn’t dare intrude,
Found us alone, swarmed to attack,
Thought silence was attention; rage
An echo of their own home’s war–
Glad we had ceased to “be upstage.”
–But the nice people came no more.
From On Booze
“Comfortable?” he asked, and she nodded, her eyes closed. Jonas squeezed cleansing lotion onto the clean sponge at the edge of the tub and began to wash her frail body.
Last night he had watched his father bathed the newchild. This was much the same: the fragile skin, the soothing water, the gentle motion of his hand, slippery with soap. The relaxed, peaceful smile on the woman’s face reminded him of Gabriel being bathed.
And the nakedness, too. It was against the rules for children or adults to look at another’s nakedness; but the rule did not apply to newchildren or the Old. Jonas was glad. It was a nuisance to keep oneself covered while changing for games, and the required apology if one had by mistake glimpsed another’s body was always awkward.
He couldn’t see why it was necessary.
He liked the feeling of safety here in this warm and quiet room; he liked the expression of trust on the woman’s face as she lay in the water unprotected, exposed, and free.