Outdoor Shower

Crusted with dried salt, dusted with
sand, shaking from the cold Atlantic,
hair gristled with crystals, tangled with the
jellied palps of wrack—just step on this
slatted rack, pull the iron
handle of the forged world toward you.
The sluice courses, down your body,
in a swirling motion, milk smoke, the
silky rush of fresh water, supple and alkaline.
Eyes shut, you reach for the small
oil torso of soap, run it
along your limbs and whirl it on the points of the
three-point shower star of sex:
arm-pit, arm-pit, sex. Then the gritty
dial of your face, lather it and bring it
under the coursing and open your mouth,
stone-sweet well-water, and then the head,
delve it in so the sand around the scalp
dances like the ions at the edges of matter,
and the shampoo, mild soldier,
take her by the shoulders and pour the gold eel on your
head. Then feel them going:
salp, chitin, diatom, dulse, the
blind ones of the ocean. Rinse till it
pours down your head like water, the dark
descendant pelf of the land creature. Now open
your eyes—
green lawn, grey pond,
white dune, blue Atlantic,
the simple fields of God, liquid and solid.
Turn and turn in hot water,
column of heat in the cool wind and
sunny air, squeeze your eyes and then
open them again—look, it is still there,
the world as heaven, your body at the edge of it.
—Sharon Olds