Voices on the Wind
Voices on Relaxation
Vision at Ojo Caliente Spa
by David Southward
The aesthetician leads me down a hall
with many doors, to one reserved for me
and asks me to disrobe. Light as a seed
I slip inside the table’s cotton pocket—
tucked there by the wedging of her hands
beneath my ribcage, thighs, and ticklish calves.
She wraps my neck and feet with hot washcloths—
so hot the muscles soften as I sink
into a mummified state. Eyelids sealed
with moistened petals, I breathe in the scent
of eucalyptus whipped into emollients.
She spreads the granule butter with both hands,
finger-painting my forehead, cheeks, and chin
in looping figure eights until my features
disappear. Impressions bubble up
through pores in time, the sloughed identities
vacationers try on: Georgia O’Keefe
standing nude by a mud bath, her lover
molding her in the desert’s mauve and tan
with a wood spatula. Parched in the sun,
her face is an exfoliating mask
with holes for eyes, its whiteness camouflaged
in lizard skin. At dusk the fluttering
wings of a hawk across the mesa’s ridge
remind her of a charred black crucifix
the missionaries left on the horizon.
In Taos, above the juniper’s green fan,
an eastern heiress wed the Pueblo prince
who promised her a pink adobe house
and laid its molten walls with his bare hands.
In dream-speech one remembers what they said:
Follow the spiral stairway. Feel the pith
of being in your body’s sacred lake,
while fingers on a shimmering guitar
reanimate the dormant reservoir.