I SAW THE AIR

I saw the air this morning
Leap from water without warning,
Made of pollen which the spring
And open, unscreened windows bring,
Landing on our limpid surfaces
At admittedly cross purposes,
Falling from the heavens when
It really means to mount again,
A suggestive sort of sunrise
From the Kohler’s fluid skies,
Sexy particles that flounce
Around the hidden thermal founts
Which populate the steamy air
Above a bathtub’s glassy lair,
Come to pollenate the nude
With a field’s solicitude,
The workings of the heights made clear
In their lower hemisphere.

Tippet Alley
July 16th, 2002, 9:32–9:37 a.m.


I’ve been myopically poking about the mysteries of the tub
for a few decades, and yet here was an early morning light
show which had entirely escaped me.

I wasn’t sure what was throwing the flocculent particles
into the slanting sunlight, but the surface of the tub seemed
to be coated with a film of dust, and the door stoops were
coated with the yellow pollen peculiar to the grassy mating
season. We had been in Paris for three months and
things in Colorado were dirty: a good argument against
spring cleaning.

I experimented, moving about in the tub, which seemed
to be the genesis of the dust display (the fireworks of filth),
and each time the amount of dancing ash lessened. When
I waited a minute, I got better results; I assumed the dust
had had time to rearrange itself on the water.

The tub itself was as always coated with thousands of
submarine bubbles, but they seemed, suspicious as they
were, to have nothing to do with the volcanic release
above, as they remained happily clinging everywhere in
similar numbers despite my sloshing about.

The dust was grey, although the early sun turned it
amber, so I can at least posit my romantic theory that I
had been let in on the inner secrets of the pollen people,
rather than the more cynical interpretation that I was taking
a dust bath which had been revealed by clean light.

In any case, what better use for a bath than to apotheosize
dirt? Whichever way you look at it, I had come clean
in the tub. No doubt only fools see rainbows in dust. Of
course, it is supremely egotistical to think I had personally
provided the dirt. Such effects spring from the deus ex
machina, translated as the absence of maids.