Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011


by Mark Risner

In notches, we lower ourselves
in to this baptism of fire hot water;
each in rhyme, four at a time,
 the feet, the ankles, shins and knees,
all squeeze in to this bath for two.
Naked, my long back is pressed against the taps.
Opposite, she reclines, her wet hair shines,
shimmering snake like across her shoulders.
She smoulders in her dark, foreign skin: sublime.
Her mascara has streaked across her face,
the only trace of the day's mask
now allowed to fall, as she, in turn,
has fallen into grace.
Oh, lamb of god, take away the sins
of the world and have mercy...
And so, in this precious little divot of time,
we talk in chime and cool reflection.
Each line so smooth and soft and clean and wet:
all soft angles and gentle curves:
the word made flesh.
My toes wriggle under water
in quiet disbelief and glee,
as she has sworn herself to me,
in this blip of inconsequential bliss.
Oh, lamb of god, take away the sins
of the world and have mercy...
The hot water and gentle ecstasy has made me dizzy.
So we sit on the edge of the bath and laugh and tease.
Alone and together. One and two.
The plug is pulled, and the slow,
hypnotic swirl of water, skin and soap
unravels like old rope,
into a small abyss below.
The water circles the drain,
till all that remains, of our once blissful state,
is a scum line at the high water mark.
The bath now passed,
she puts on the stark electric light to clean her teeth.

Added: 30.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


palpable and immediate but punctuated with the refrain and the stark ending