Summer 1991 • Vol. XIII No. 3 PoetryJuly 1, 1991 |

El Curandero

I am bathing. All my grayness—The hospital, the incurable illnesses, My headache—is slowly given over To the bathwater, deepening it to where I lose sight of my limbs. The fragrance, Twenty different herbs at first (dill, spices From the Caribbean, aloe vera) Settles, and becomes the single, warm air Of my sweat, of the warmth deep in my hair—I recognize it, it's the smell of my pillow And of my sheets, the closest things to me. Now one with the bathroom, every oily tile A different picture of me, every squareOne in which I'm given the power of curves, Distorted, captured in some less shallow Dimension-now I can pray. I can cry, and he'll Come. He is my shoulder, maybe, above The gray water. He is in the steam,So he can touch my face. Rafael, He says, I am your saint. So I paint For him the story of the day: the wife Whose husband beat purples into her skin, The jaundiced man (who calls me Ralph, still, Because that's more American), faint Yellows, in his eye

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