i take a shower, or to Walt Whitman

Rachel Liu

Pottstown, PA

The Hill School

Poetry

i take a shower and when i'm dripping and wilted like half a summer flower

walt whitman is in my bedroom with his straw hat of ruthless agarian pride

looking like his own printed daguerrotype with the crooked hip inside out and the fisted hand attached to his waist

like he's touching himself and wants the world to see how much he likes it


i hold the towel up to my beating fist of a heart

as if to hide

and i want so bad to tell him how much i like it

feeling his beat! beat! drums! palpitating our lungs as an oxygenated collective

inhaling them and spitting them back out reverberating and alive

i want to cup my lungs back into my naked hands and point him to all the places where i am hidden and lacking


so I open my throat devoid of lungs

pointing to him the places where i am hiding

and note by note i trace in my own throat the abandoned chords of the great yawp

where he is alone and multitudinous, finding kaleidoscope beauty and sin within black white yellow bodies alike

and I take his hat:

feel the coarseness of it right where my lungs should be

and scream his fierce burning yawp

EDITORIAL PRAISE

The stripped-down, barren rendition of this piece is striking. The speaker unravels the vulnerability that comes with establishing one’s voice in a world raked with criticism and rejection through a depiction of an intimate experience with one of history’s most beloved literary figures. I Take a Shower discloses a journey straddling the line between self-acceptance and self-doubt—a perilous dichotomy that’s so common in adolescence. The speaker’s navigation through bouts of uncertainty and fear culminate in an eventual hurrah as they break through with courage.

Rachel Liu is a writer from Beijing, China and Paramus, New Jersey. She is a recent graduate of the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a current gap year student at the University of Chicago, and an avid fan of showers. She has been recognized in the Scholastic Art and Writing awards and The New York Times in various student contests. Her works appear in or are forthcoming from "Polyphony Lit", "Blue Marble Review", "Impakter", and "Brightly".

ABOUT THE AUTHOR