At the St. Mark's baths Hart Crane washes my hair
and I tilt around the cold porcelain of the basin
with strain and delight, trying to look at him.

But before I meet his sea-tempered eyes
I feel his hands easing my head
into the dark water,

as if he were a sailor calming a storm
on a ship with insatiable men.
When he tugs at the ropes that are my hair

my American youth streams down—
one year so heavy, it finds its way under the towel
around my waist and rests near the curve of my thigh.

Who am I? I think. And I try to remember
the beginning of beauty—before Orpheus,
before winter—

before this man who sings
for the drowning, touches my lips,
and I ignite.