The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Bath by Jen Silverman

This selection, chosen by guest editor Katie Manning, is from Bath by Jen Silverman, released by Driftwood Press in 2022.

Bath 11

On New Year’s Eve my ex’s wife tells us about giving birth
to their daughter - about the salty Hudson Valley midwives

who thronged her - the lady doctor, face carved like a river-
bed, who shouted at her What are you waiting for -

and she repeated it to herself again and again until it was a
much larger question: What am I waiting for? -

about how her one fear was pooping in the bed and she kept
asking her husband, B, Am I pooping? did I poop? -

and each time he’d tell her You aren’t pooping - but even now
she isn’t sure if he lied. They are sober, drinking seltzer,

my partner and I are drinking our last glasses of wine before
a month-long fast; the first of the year is always the moment

to set ourselves towards the people we wish we were,
hit a button, launch. We pull Tarot cards from three different decks;

one of them is blunter than the others; when I fail it gives me
the Eight of Swords; when I am afraid, it tells me: What are you waiting for.

B pulls the Eight of Pentacles, his wife the Five, and my partner
pulls the Sun. Earlier in the night we pulled a card for their daughter,

who is sleeping in our bedroom after we danced her around the
hardwood floors, held her small shocked face to the revelation of

lights stringing the tree. Sometimes I pull back and look down at us
with a god’s eye. Sometimes all times coexist, and his wife is giving birth

at the same time that all of us are meeting, at the same time
that B and I are breaking up, both of us sobbing hysterically,

and his pronouns are still she/ her, and I don’t yet have ink all over
my arms, and my partner is a bright horizon that has yet to arrive.

Jen Silverman is a New York-based writer and playwright. Jen is the author of the debut novel We Play Ourselves and the story collection The Island Dwellers (Random House) which was longlisted for a PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Additional work has appeared in Vogue, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Sun, and elsewhere. Jen’s plays have been produced across the United States and internationally. Jen is a three-time MacDowell Colony fellow, a member of New Dramatists, and the recipient of an NEA Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts grant, the Yale Drama Series Award, and a Playwrights of New York Fellowship. Jen also writes for TV and film.

Katie Manning is the author of Hereverent (Agape Editions), Tasty Other (winner of the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award), and six chapbook collections, including How to Play (Louisiana Literature Press) and 28,065 Nights (River Glass Books). Her poem “What to Expect” was featured on the Poetry Unbound podcast, and her poems have appeared in HAD, Poet Lore, SWWIM, Stirring, Thimble, Verse Daily, and many other venues. Katie is the founder and editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University.


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