“Cosmic Sadness of a Teenage Girl Crying in the Shower”

~ after Natalie D’Arbeloff; 2018, Boxwork, mixed media 11″ x 11″ x 7.5

Oh yes that’s you: scabbed,
acne-scarred, awkward as hell,

tongue-tied even just answering
the telephone. And nobody seems

to understand the exquisite
loneliness of checkerboard tile,

the smell of old polyvinyl
chloride shower curtains, chipped

blue enamel in this bathroom
where you retreat at least twice

a day. You let thin arrows
of scalding water rain down

your chest and shoulders,
breathe in the steam that lets

the hurt you’ve been hoarding
in your lungs escape at last—

pfffft. You rub yourself
raw with a pumice stone, soap

on skin afterward another penance
before the rinse. You already know

how it comes down to the body,
how it comes down to rituals

we’ll make for softening more
than flesh: but only later without

judgment, with kindness, before
going back into the world again.


  1. Luisa, I’m very moved by your poetic attention and response to my boxwork and so happy that it inspired you. Thank you so much, I’m waving to you in friendship across the ocean.


  2. Luisa, how do I post a photo here of the boxwork your poem responded to?


  3. Thank you Natalie! Waving back! xxx. If you have a link to the photo somewhere on the web, either Dave or I could include it in the post.


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