Elizabeth Swados

1951 / New York / United States

Massacre At The Spa

SIT on your hands
until that mouth of yours
can say something useful to the brook
cleaving through
the green haired lawn of this spa
where you've been sent
to redirect your energy
and rearrange your attitudes
that surround your genetics.
Don't you see them?
Trees! Trees! Trees!
Bushes, ponds, and this little
struggling creek which hikes
over the silent pebbles?

Acknowledge the endless open sky that
won't fold over like an origami bird
and the vast line of hills
in the distance as bright green staples
hold the land together.

You are so lucky to have a treadmill
on which you can contemplate
the worthlessness of Haydn.
After a number of years
a woman's stomach wants
to sag like a burlap bag
as she gets older. Regardless
of the abdominal class this morning
led by that hefty solid
Chinese-American trainer who
was all muscle and stupidly cheerful.

Now I am wondering if anyone
has ever committed suicide at
one of these posh summer camps
for adult women who, whether wanting to or
not, must concentrate hour after hour on
skin tone, smell, breath, the fingernails,
strength of calves, muscles under the neck,
placement of spine, strength of
the core! Core! Core!

I mean, what if you are
one of the unfortunates who have
no core, coreless as you are, dragging
your coreless self from class to class, being
told endlessly to concentrate on your core
even as you unsuccessfully
try to stand on one foot?

Couldn't a woman go mad comparing
flesh against flesh in the heaving steam room,
the Northern California sauna,
the Jacuzzi where breasts float and
look at each other like stupid seals.
Hasn't there ever been one suicide
by a woman who went into the aerobics
room in between step classes and shot up
a combination of Vitamin B12 and smack?
No one ever snuck in a bottle of J + B
to take with a handful of antidepressants
in the Native American meditation room?
Has no one ever leapt off a cliff
during the 6:30 a.m. brisk
mountain walk for beginners and intermediates?
Put a plastic bag over her own head
and slashed her wrists in the mud pool?

I can't believe this isn't so,
what with the monotony,
the striving, the control of daylight,
the flatness of Sweden
(the country which gives us masseurs),
the walls of unforgiving mirrors, the company
of secretly depressed women who have
come to rearrange the flesh around
those flawed genetics, and just can't
get the leg to lift eight times like
a scissors, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.

I must research this.
Remind me after I have my
massage with hot rocks.
I mean why hasn't anyone taken these smooth
stones, which were heated in
a clay oven, and pummeled
the bored, dyed blonde haired
masseuse in her off-white uniform
to death.

Or better yet, why
has no one brought an AK-47
or uzi onto the landscaped
mini village of these lands
of stucco and taken out every
nutritionist, aura counselor,
drummer, flower therapist,
past life expert, manicurist,
or inner-visional
journey guide, and visual
diet specialist, leaving well-toned
bodies in piles by the bright
exercise balls and elastic straps.
There would be blood caked
in puddles by the learn how to cook
your own meal mini kitchen,
corpses on the outdoor yoga beach.

I wonder why no one has gone
mad from health, mad
from so much health, violent from
so much gentle attention, the long knowing stares,
the quick smiles? Why has there been no
mass murder by a woman who came to
lose 8 pounds, and only could
make it to 4?

Be careful: for the time will come.
And the outcome will be messy.
And the white doves in the quiet room
will fly off laughing with blood on their wings
and a scream will gag out from
the slit throat of the sunrise
hatha yoga chanting teacher.
Stay away. There will be one hamburger
made out of zucchini too many, one
gentle squat holding a powder blue
3 pound hand weight too much. The
time is coming. Revelations is nothing.
It is the spa brochure and the free manicures (as extras)
that know the future of the end of the beginning
of time spent, or time ignored, or they are
identifying the names of cactus
and are lost.
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