Valentin, can you
take your hands off your ears
and see how the nice ladies are making you
a swimming pool?
Madame is weary. Her charge hums
and stands on his toes, which we assume
means he is afraid of water –
but still she strips him
down to his makeshift diaper,
a miniscule pink penis
caught between two layers of gauze.
He hops back and forth with his legs apart
while we wrestle with the hose.
Cruel! Cruel to make him wait!
When the water finally comes, we
kneel and let him spray us too. For twenty minutes
he screams and screams and drenches our heads, even Madame’s –
Is that you, Valentin?
Madame is fooling around,
but Valentin drops his hose
and turns to look for himself in the pool.
Are you there under your great curtain of water?
Hannah Loeb is a first-year poet at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She graduated from Yale University in 2012 and received the Frederick Mortimer Clapp Fellowship for poetry.