Robert Frost's Bathtub

It seems appropriate to place this inspirational poem in the inauguration of the website for Paper Pencil. It was first published by RATTLE in 2000.


Robert Frost’s Bathtub

                        (used by the poet while in residency
                        at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

In its third home, it is deep and clawed,
perched on a throne of two steps up.

Still pearly inside with sweet softness
its outside has been painted red and a fan
has scrolled its wide curled lip with one of your
three stanza poems; from line to line, “Design.”

Did you use bubbles when you bathed
or oils as I have of gardenia and citrus
dripped in time with the warm water that
rises in a gush from the spigot at the bow?

As you considered the structure of a spider
were you soaking and spying him from the corner
of your eye in the corner of the room
the web nestled neat as you scrubbed your feet?

Why was it you never wrote a line or two
about this ship that carried you spic and span
into each day? There it was, surrounding
you but the shape and depth were left unsaid.

Happy is the poet who has a tub this wide.
Scrubbing a full head of hair with the lather
that depicted the color of your future—I touch
my toes where your toes have touched—inspired

where we both have come clean.