Friday, September 20, 2013

Charles Taylor

To S and Her Shower Curtain

When I was young I was full of many harebrained ideas, one being that poets were too special and divine 
to clean shower curtains. Yet this lovely blond poet from East Texas even had a special cleaning solution 
specifically manufactured for the task of working on plastic shower curtains, promising not only to make 
them bright and shiny again, but to kill any and all fungus.

All this made me scoff silently to myself. The thing is, I was a lazy romantic. I took long soaking baths, 
and I was not acquainted with shower curtains. I couldn’t recall a single shower curtain from my 
childhood, its colors or patterns, if my mother did have shower curtains. 

The poet unhooked her shower curtain, dragged it outside, and spread it out on the front lawn. She lived 
alone and divorced in a lovely neighborhood on a bluff above the Colorado River in Austin. She sprayed the 
shower curtain with a garden hose, squirted on the cleaner, and began to scrub with a plastic bristle brush.

The poet had kindly allowed me to spend a night at her house because I was poor and could not 
afford a motel. I was in town to see the children of my own divorce. She had a very nice trim ass, I can tell 
you that, as I watched her do a wiggle dance, scrubbing hard and long, but did not offer assistance. I felt 
certain if I’d helped she would have told me I was doing it all wrong. She was working in tight circles and I 
would have made long swoops.

I couldn’t even tell her how nice her ass was, given the context, and because she was an East Texas 
southern belle right out of Gone With the Wind, and I lacked the dash and wealth, as well as the 
dashing mustache, of a Rhett Butler. There had been no sparks between us during my stay over.

These days I own a shower curtain and when showering I will often think of the poet. She was a 
fantastic writer who won grants and had a book published, but she gave up poetry and turned into a technical 
writer. I toss out old moldy shower curtains myself, but that day in Austin under the Live Oaks at her house 
south of the river, up on the bluffs in the spring sunshine, it was poetry divine all right, all magic. 


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