My neighbor likes to play a game with me
when I get into the shower.
It’s called “freeze and scald.”
I wash, as he tries to kill me.
Soap and nylon puff smush together,
black bits sit suspended in the lather,
little poppyseeds from an artisanal bar.
The water rains down, and for a while it’s bliss.
I am coated in foam like a melting snowman.
Then, light footsteps upstairs—
the pressure drops oh-so-slightly
and I sidestep.
The few fat droplets that make it onto
my unprotected skin are slivers of ice,
Then, the pressure changes. I sense it before it happens,
a finely-tuned survival response.
The spray could boil a chicken.
I adjust the dial, normalize the temperature
—but only for a moment, as my
nemesis responds in kind.
This is the game we play.
I’m not sure if he’s simply unaware or
if this is all by design,
but I’ve developed a complex about it—
It occurs with a frightening regularity.
The heat returns to my original setting,
and I rinse, turn off the tap, and grab a towel.
Instantly, I hear the water turn on above me, full blast.
The towel goes round my waist and I step to the sink.
It’s fun to run the water and knock the tap back and forth.
He may be on to something.