Bless the Y (poem)

Photo: Kenny Holston 21

Bless the women’s locker room where I refresh myself with moisturizer on all
    my limbs my chest my back my feet,
where I lie completely long and stretched in the sauna
warm loose big myself in myself,
where the ladies talk to me
the African American lady age 65 in brushed sweater and skirt pushes down the
    swimsuit extractor for me with all the force in her thin wrists
because I have a broken hand and cannot dry my own suit,
the enormous white lady with long blond hair
bows to my Hindu T-shirt, Rama’s face offering compassion in a wet wild
    of color,
retired professor who doesn’t know me
lends me her flip-flops so I will not get a fungus in the shower.

The chief cleaning lady is 23 and she
could manage a Fortune 500 company

she knows

how to help the one who has knocked her back out on the bump in the
    shower stall
the one who’s just impaled herself on the stupidest
dick in South Brooklyn
and me, blubbering in the soft humid air
about how hard it is to get
something I need

she helps,
the lady with the hemorrhoids helps, the jock
who holds the door the
gumpopping teenager
offering advice on Broadway
tickets     the physical therapist agreeing with me on the proper
tuna to mayonnaise ratio
straight women unafraid of me a lesbian next to them naked on the bench
while they themselves glorious are naked and stretch-marked lumpy beautiful

the doorperson is sweet to me
even though she has to stick out her hand very far to hand me back my
    membership card every time

and all shall be well and all
shall be well
and all
manner of thing shall be well

7 Replies to “Bless the Y (poem)”

  1. Your ending reminded me of the end of a poem I love very much, “Explico algunas cosas” by Pablo Neruda. Though obviously yours is intended to end on a positive note and Neruda’s more on a note of despair, in both cases the repetition produces a kind of calm for me.

    Venid a ver la sangre por las calles,
    venid a ver
    la sangre por las calles,
    venid a ver la sangre
    por las calles!

    Come and see the blood in the streets,
    come and see
    the blood in the streets,
    come and see the blood
    in the streets!

  2. I love that Neruda poem, Dawn. It’s the poem of his I know the best and love most, actually, though I’ve only read the English.

    The “all shall be well” sequence is from a wonderful medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich — do you know her? — and gets used and cited frequently in Wiccan rituals and enactments.

  3. This is one of the happiest poems I’ve ever read.

    Though the poem is about how all the people at the Y are making you feel good, I picture them all feeling good after bumping into you.

  4. As a fellow Y lover who regularly meets you as you immerse or emerge from the pool, I so connect to your appreciation of the quiet rich times the Y offers. Thank you!

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