In the Tub
by Michael Camden
He watched his mother drag out the tub
and fill it with water from the stove.
He watched his brothers strip and shiver.
First she would dunk the baby.
Then, in age order, they lowered themselves into the bath.
He clutched his belt loops, shirtless and waiting.
Leaning in the doorway,
he heard his father’s throat clearing
his brothers’ shrieking laughter
as a slick hand made wet loops over their backs.
In the cold they kept their eyes closed,
and let the steam hit their faces.
And when men came to repossess the stove,
he was ordered to shovel out the coal
so they could heave it out of its spot.
For this he was awarded the first bath of the night.
He lowered himself into the frigid water,
letting the bath draw his heat.
Michael Camden lives near Philadelphia, where he has featured and read at open mics. He studied literature at Boston University. His work appears in MOLT Journal and Amethyst Arsenic. In September he will begin graduate school in teaching and literature at University of Massachusetts Boston. He is currently writing a novel.