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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 3: May 2020
Prose Poem: 183 words
By Cassandra Atherton

Japanese Bath


As you pour the last of the Cava into the pink flutes, I tie my hair into a top knot and take out my earrings. The bath is drawing, mineral salts turning the water mermaid green. A shallow rectangle, it won’t keep my top and bottom warm at the same time. I want a luxury Japanese bath. My preference is for the Haiku 2 Seat Tempio 24 Jet model. I’d like it customised in pink with rhinestones around the jets, but there’s a chance it won’t be zen enough. I might have to get it in bright white, or cream—it would be stylish and offer space-efficient soaking. Sitting opposite one another, water up to our shoulders, we’d recite Bashō poems or talk in stilted 5, 7, 5 syllables, our fingers marking time. But you prefer showers. All week you have left catalogues of waterfall showers with slate tiles on the bench—I have thrown them all away. I like waterfalls, but not water falling on my head. I like a deep bath; I’ve never seen the romance of a thunderstorm.

Cassandra Atherton
Issue 3, May 2020

is a widely anthologised prose poet and a leading scholar on prose poetry. She was a Visiting Scholar in English at Harvard University, sponsored by Stephen Greenblatt, and a Visiting Fellow at Sophia University, Tokyo. She is the recipient of national and international research grants and awards, including VicArts and Australia Council grants, and has judged numerous poetry awards including the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry, the joanne burns award, and the Lord Mayor’s Prize for Poetry.

Cassandra’s books of prose poetry include Exhumed (Grand Parade Poets, 2015), Trace (Finlay Lloyd, 2015), Pre-Raphaelite (Garron Publishing, 2018), and Leftovers (forthcoming, 2020). She is an Associate Professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University (Melbourne Burwood); commissioning editor for Westerly magazine and Axon: Creative Explorations journal; and series editor for the publisher Spineless Wonders.

Poet’s website: http://cassandra-atherton.com/

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