Dry Splash All these years we’ve been worried about the sea levels rising, when what we should have paid attention to was the fresh water levels falling. Long-forgotten riverbeds and lake bottoms reveal themselves as dried mud, cracked dirt, rocks and sand. The decades-long drought bears on, waters evaporate, the earth, dry. I look into your moist eyes and am reminded of the depths beneath your surface, the reserves hidden in those waters— and I want to dive in and splash. Immersion She dips her toe into the bath, into the 120-degree water, holds it there for a matter of seconds. Instinct overrides determination— she pulls out, waiting for the temperature on the thermometer to subside, 117, 115, 111. Then, she eases in, and is reminded of the thermal baths of Budapest— those sun-kissed fountains at Szechenyi, a golden palace of indoor pools surrounded by a network of exterior baths, water pouring from decorative spouts onto her neck and shoulders, as she watched waist-deep locals play chess on boards emerging from the surface. She joined travelers in the whirlpool’s current, circling like a devout pilgrim around Mecca, then found paradise in the aromatic baths inside. Across town, in Buda, the famous baths in Gillert, outdone only by the obscure ones recommended by the café barista next door to her rented flat in the ruins of Pest. The interior baths of various temperatures and themes tempered frigid ice pools with spicy cauldrons fiercer than the 110-degree water at home, these extremes made possible by the gradual increase and decrease in temperature from pool to pool. In those baths, she’d tested tolerance, emerged resilient, as a sword grows stronger when taken from the red-hot forge and plunged into ice-cold water. Final whirlpool on the rooftop, overlooking the city, jet streams relaxing the muscles she’d pushed to their limits, a reward for endurance. Now, as she relaxes in the bath at home, a Liszt rhapsody ricocheting off the tiled walls massaging her mind, she thinks of the frog who voluntarily boils in an easy broth of consolation unaware that it will kill. Eyes closed, listening to the trickling piano from a bathroom speaker, falling into a steamy respite, she imagines increasing the temperature— bit by bit—in those Hungarian baths, imagines it wouldn’t be such a bad way to go.
Eric D. Goodman lives in Maryland, where during the pandemic, spent a portion of his hermithood writing poetry. He’s author of Wrecks and Ruins (Loyola University’s Apprentice House Press, 2022) The Color of Jadeite (Apprentice House, 2020), Setting the Family Free (Apprentice House, 2019), Womb: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing, 2017) Tracks: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books, 2011), and Flightless Goose, (Writers Lair Books, 2008). Visit his website: www.EricDGoodman.com. (Photo credit: Nataliya A. Goodman)
Image “Water vapor of Sea Hell Hot Spring” from Soramimi under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.