Ten o’Clock

After the Bath, Woman drying herself ~ Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas

Ten o’Clock

She shouldered the weight of
her responsibilities by day with
proficient hands and simple faith,
treading lightly over stones immoveable,
through fields of sugar cane, sweet
but unyielding, skirting swamps of
quick sand waiting to suck her into
herself should seeds of regret find
fertile soil.

Her days were like this, bequeathed
to others, but the night….

The night was hers to covet
within a tub of steamy froth,
the earthy scent of tea olive
soap on a sea sponge
harvested from the Gulf, lather
from neck to breast,
from breast to thigh,
from thigh to toe.
Vapor rising as if from Vesuvius’ peak to mingle
into worlds imagined. Hercules
could not have been a more ardent
enthusiast of the goddess-born bliss
of her bath ~
(voyeur though he may be)

and within the vapor of her bath each night
rose also
her dreams, finally escaping
the daily incarceration of duty
to fly…


This poem inspired by Read Write Poem, Prompt #109.

26 thoughts on “Ten o’Clock

  1. I like the contrast between the sense of diurnal duty, presumably to the world at large, and the sensuousness – even eroticism – of her private time. Degas is well served here!


  2. Ahh, this is so……delicious, almost yummy. I particularly like the vision of the bath and vapors. And the watching, ohhhh, now that is provocative. This poem paints a rather tingling expectation, a hidden longing, an evaporation of emotions. I did like it a lot. I’ve got to remember not to drink the bath water.


  3. I like the idea of the bath as both cleansing and freeing, the stepping out of clothes, and the stepping out of one’s mortal, dirty and burdened body. For the woman, as you describer her so well, the soil and the work is more than ambition, but interpersonal, so the bath is a spiritual solitude as well.


  4. I enjoyed the sensual contrasts between her daily toil and her dreams flying away with the steam: “her nights were hers to covet”…yes, we all have/can have those precious moments that no one else owns where we revel in our own skins


  5. Thank you all for your great comments – I appreciate it so much. You all give me the inspiration to continue writing even when I have a headache as big as NoLA – like I did last night, writing this.


  6. “swamps of quick sand waiting to suck her into herself”, and I loved this image, strong, submerging.

    And the refuge of the evening! Could use some of that right now myself. Maybe I have to share my space.


  7. Oh, what a delicious poem! How well I know the pleasures of sinking into a bubble bath with tea in one hand and a book in the other! Reading your words, I was magically transported to that blissful moment where aching body meets scented, steaming waters. I particularly enjoyed how you captured the quiet moment that this woman indulged her sensuous nature and how it rejuvenated her. If I may be forgiven for invoking crass commercialism in this sacred space – Calgon, take me away!


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