I had a bath this morning, after sleeping like the dead and waking with the impression of crumpled linen on my face. The water was as hot as I could possibly stand and buried under clouds of white lavendar foam. With the bathroom door wide open, the back door ajar, the stereo full volume and half a glass of apple juice forgotten on the sink, I made eagles and trees and dragonflies with my fingers, sinking further and further into the milky water until it was lapping at my eyelids and being swallowed by my ears. Steam poured out of my hands and rose in waves into the skylight, and underwater the music sounded like sonar, like far-off cathedral bells, like giants’ footsteps over mountains.
I thought about speeding cars and the hot summer sun, the wet leaves blowing in the back door, my empty stomach and the sand still in my shoes from four nights ago. And I wondered how far I could stretch myself – whether it might actually be possible to reach up and kiss the sky while still keeping my bare feet firmly on the ground, how much that might hurt, and how many layers of skin there are between what we say, what we hear, and the things we do with our bodies and our minds. And I thought about the subtle, pervasive nature of hibernation, of how to recognise the colour of my wings when they’re reflected back at me, and whether I ought to jump out while the water was still hot or stay in there until it cooled and risk the shivery, naked walk to my bedroom and nothing to wear when I got there.
And I thought: I will bury myself in this for the minute, for this moment, momentarily – because when things push at you from a hundred different directions, sometimes the only thing you can do is stop and let them crash in around you, wash over you, soak into you. So I stayed like that – in the steam and the foam and the million-miles-an-hour in my head – until the song faded and the echo of the heavy-dripping tap reminded me of all the things I have to do today.