In muted light by the electric bath
nameless forms of naked patients
wait passively in the enamel tub.
They lie there white as axolotls,
amphibious creatures with
tiny foreshortened legs, their
feathery gills hidden in steam.
They face their faint reflections
in the enamel and the tiles, each
head half-obscured by the rim.
Companions to forsaken
angels who lived for themselves,
they think only of their beauty.
Everything else is refusal.
The white-jacketed attendant
touches the plastic switch.
There is a spluttering flash
of orange and vermilion.
The translucent skin of each
wavering body ripples
in brief mimicry of action.