Two Poems by Eric D. Goodman

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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.

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