The Next Morning

Hung-over, he was, facing down a strange
Shower, her shower, where the soaps were not
Just soap. Her soaps were lilac and a range
Of faded green and pink. Pastilles, the lot
Was called, The pastilles are here, she pointed
To them. We don't use plain soap. Dry, they felt
Powdery and light, which was bad enough,
But wet--wet--they slimily anointed
Him, leaving, as each one began to melt,
A slick perfume and nasty viscous stuff.

They're handmade with French herbs, she'd pronounced, and
Showed him where they were. Outside the shower
Stall. Her in pink robe, comfortable, grand...
Him in awkward nothing. Stripped of power.

Aloe for your face, she said, lavender...,
She stopped, Giving him an apprising stare
...For the rest of you. And she'd turned to leave,
Then stopped again, adding the rejoinder
They're quite expensive, don't waste them in there.
And she'd left him. He wasn't so naive

To think he was supposed to stay once he
Cleaned up and got dressed. No, they were done. They
Met, she got to live out some fantasy
Or other about having sex all day
With the working classes, with no risk
That he would matter . He stood in the stall,
The water hot and rushing down like rain
Not washing, not moving. Letting the discs,
The pastilles, slip from his fingers and fall
On the shower floor and melt down the drain.

by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

Along with other awards, Juleigh Howard-Hobson has won the prestigious Australian ANZAC Day Award for poetry. Her formalist work has recently appeared in/ will appear in Mezzo Cammin, The Hyper Texts, Odin's Gift, Shatter Colors Literary Review, The Raintown Review, The Quarterly Journal of Food and Car Poems, Strong Verse, Contemporary Rhyme and Poem, Revised. She was a finalist for the 2006 Morton Marr Poetry Award. Born in England, raised in the US and Australia, she currently lives with her artist-blacksmith husband and three children in the inspiring grey of the Pacific Northwest.

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