My Bathtub Pal

I am writing you from the bathtub
where I am trying to ease my joints.
The pain seems to move from the front half 
of a joint to a back half.

I can’t track it across my body.

My pain is mild but deep—like it’s reminding
my body of something it once was.
It thinks I’m a baby:

Look at the oatmeal prepared for you daily,
and your electric blankets,
and it’s me you choose to lavish your attention on?

You have so much more than me,
though you had me first, when you were a Worm.

This pain thinks thinking is idiotic, embarrassingly juvenile,
and I’m proof of that.

And it’s not even the pain foremost,
it is the story of me in pain that is paining me.

I am possessed with self-pity, 
and it is expressing itself
out of my mouth. It sounds like a whole flock of sheep suddenly

realizing the flock is an imposed externality.

From The Final Voicemails. Copyright © 2018 by Max Ritvo. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.