Steam envelopes me and
she stands beneath the spray
of the shower head.
“There’s not enough room for both of us,”
I protest,
breath hotter than the steam.
“Of course there is,”
she argues and moves closer.
I feel her body all along
the length of mine —
toes, knees, thighs, hips, breasts.
Her head on my chest,
her hands on my back.
Under soapy lather I feel her curves
then turn the water hotter, hotter
till I can’t stand it
but she does.
So I turn it colder, colder
than her icy heart,
her nails clawing at my back.
Her memory drips from
my trembling body
until my pain circles the drain.
She’s gone, I know she’s gone
but my heart won’t know
till I can shower alone.


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  1. you always have at least one line that stops me in my tracks. pain circling the drain…that’s the one.

    Thanks, Lime. That is truly high praise. ~Tim

  2. Tim, the imagery here is spot on. The loneliness at the end is powerful. And the transition to that feeling grows gradually.

    Thanks, Julio. I see this piece as a tight, downward spiral. An earlier draft had a more upbeat ending that just didn’t work as well. ~Tim

  3. Yep – it’s pain circles the drain in combination with the title. Very nice and not at all what i expected at the beginning 😉

    Thanks, PJ. I like unexpected. ~Tim

  4. I tripped on the first line, thinking of “steaming” an “envelope” being a way to get at the contents. Everything else flowed much more smoothly. Goes downright sensuous.

    Thanks, John. I had not considered that connotation. [I wonder what the email equivalent is to steaming open an envelope?] Maybe I should use “surrounds” instead of “envelopes” and take advantage of the alliteration. I always appreciate when readers point out things that trip them up. ~Tim

  5. Super powerful story Tim! I too like the “pain circles the drain” line, and love the punch in the gut at the end. Simply fabulous.

    Thanks, Deanna. ~Tim

  6. Same thing happened to me as to John with the steaming of envelopes. This could almost have been a microfic as easily as a poem, I think. Memory is a jerk sometimes, isn’t it?

    Thanks, Valerie. I look at this piece as both microfiction and poetry. And, yes, memory is a jerk sometimes. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. ~Tim

  7. Amazing what memories can do to a person. Excellent piece of work.

    Thanks, Icy. Memories can heal too, of course. [They often get in the way like here though.] ~Tim

  8. Excellent story/poem. Memories can be so hard to burn or freeze away. Hopefully he can get back on track soon.

    Thanks, Eric. He will get back on track. An earlier draft had him further along in letting go of the memories, but I think the piece is stronger this way. ~Tim

  9. The ending swerved in a direction different than the steamy place I thought the poem was taking us. Poignant. Peace…

    Thanks, Linda. Apparently a few readers expected this to be a different encounter from the way I opened it. I hope all of you enjoyed the journey when I swerved. ~Tim

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