Showering With Shanti (Peace), Goa

Showering with Shanti (Peace), Goa, Sometime in the Early Eighties

Her name was Shanti and she craved
my shampoo.

We stood in a bucket shower, a stall

of tangled vines. She was a Citizen
 of the World,
she said (though her accent spoke

of the States)
and asked, breathlessly,
if it 
was Herbal Essence, and could she please please

borrow some, extending arms thinned to ropes

from a while in India.

While I was just visiting, no matter how long It felt,
so squeezed a gob
onto her waiting palms, and then, 
as they waited longer, another gob.

She pressed the pooling gel

onto her splayed part, right in the center of wet hair

already flattened, closing

kaleidoscope eyes.

I don’t know anything
about her experiences of peace,

but there was bliss–
her whole being–from lathered crown

through smiling fingers, nose, thighs, shins–a stream

of shine, freckles dwarf stars

in a bubble of–It comes in Strawberry?

I squeezed more into

her outstretched palms; she passed them

over shoulders, belly, hips, then cupped them

to her face as if they were a conch shell she might blow,

a prayer that she might call, an answer
to called prayer.

At the time I felt rather glad to be myself,
my ticket home safe
in my zipped passport pouch,
but in years since, I’ve thought of her face

more often than I care to admit,

wishing for at least a piece 

of what she found that day
in between the pour
of pink shampoo and washing
every bit of her, shaded
by tangled vines.

Here’s a sort of poem I wrote thinking about h Mary Kling’s “peace” prompt on dVerse Poets Pub over this past weekend. (Shanti, sometimes spelled Shantih, means peace in Sanskrit.) If you feel like you’ve read about this story before, you may have, as I wrote a prose poem about it some time ago. I did not specifically re-write the prose poem for this draft, but when I went back to check it, I was amazed at the similarities. (I don’t know if that means that the story is true to memory, or that I easily get into ruts. Agh.) (I am posting this on iPhone right now but will include link for other prose piece later if any one is interested. I think it was called Duty/Calls.)

I am also linking this to the open link nights at dverse poets pub and real toads.

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31 Comments on “Showering With Shanti (Peace), Goa”

  1. howanxious Says:

    Beautiful write. Peace is something we can not understand at times cos’ everybody has their own idea of what it is and where to find it. As much as peace matters to all, it has a personal side to it.
    So well-presented… and I was totally grabbed by the starting.

  2. janehewey Says:

    blissful sensations bring me peace. I clearly identify with the feeling you’ve described and can often find near-bliss while shower/shampooing. This is wonderful, k. I can almost smell the scene and with the picture get a wonderful feel for the shadow effects. I would love to experience the bucket shower!

  3. beautiful descriptions… felt like I was standing there too.

  4. This is the kind of writing which really gets to me. The ability to take a real moment and turn it into a universal message, while bringing character to life in sensual beauty… What a gift!

  5. You took me inside this moment . . . its as though I can feel just how blissful those gobs of shampoo were. I love how someone found joy and peace in something we often take for granted.

  6. Oh I love this picture of peace, ecstasy almost. A great reminder to be aware and grateful. And willing to share.

  7. Ellen Says:

    The gift of wonder captivates! Wondrous to read and I am craving this shampoo ;D and some peace~

  8. brian miller Says:

    what a cool experience…to share a bit of refreshment with another….a luxury that she might not have afforded otherwise…how refreshing it feels to be clean and smell good…

  9. This is lovely. I could see it all so clearly. She knew the secret of bliss.

  10. Hey, Manic D, this is one of those slice-of-life poems that transcends the norm because of the exotic locale and your experience as a traveler. Looking back must be heaven AND hell, depending on where you are at present. I often look back in languor more often than anger, because those days in Bermuda and other climes still smell of jasmine. LOVED THIS. Amy

  11. That
    ” between the pour
    of pink shampoo and washing
    every bit of her”
    goes deeper than the falling shadow of Gibrahn
    paper and pen only you can taste the scene and time…
    This is the most difficult thing to explain of all that
    gives our lives and dreams substance
    somewhere deep into jet lags of time and timeless peace

  12. Sumana Roy Says:

    i like the details, the bond, sharing, pleasure in little things, simplicity………a beautiful sketch……

  13. hedgewitch Says:

    I did feel a sense of deja vu, k–so glad it wasn’t just a demented lapse of cognition on my part. I don’t think it speaks to being in a rut though, but about an experience being extremely well-defined in our memories, becoming one of our inner landmarks–in this case for seeing the world through different eyes, for perhaps grasping a facet of ourselves reflected in something we would never personally think to do or feel. Anyway, very vivid, intense, and made me instantly remember the Herbal Essence shampoo smell –the green kind–which I used to love almost as much as Shanti.

  14. I soaked up that moment completely. What a beautiful poem. I loved it. The feeling running through it was so real. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  15. WE TAKE SO MUCH FOR GRANTED… I haven’t taken a regular bath, showering for 30 yrs since I’m bedridden and believe me, It’s one of the small pleasures I know God will someday grant me and, I can’t even imagine that Peace! As usual k, your writing is electrifying ! Faithfully D

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Deb. Not taking a bath is a hard thing to live through, in my mind. I know for some may seem minor but there is a peace and delight there. Just a release. Hope all okay with you. thanks for your kind comments and tweets. Ive been very busy so haven’t been able to answer fully. take care, k.

  16. Truedessa Says:

    I could smell the herbal essence shampoo, cleansing the took a memory and brought it to life with a message.

  17. Steve King Says:

    A remarkable vignette…great detail, transforming something of an everyday experience (for us) and noting how it could be such a transforming experience. Very fine imagination in this. And of course, writing to match.
    (no need to visit back–no post here for me this week!)

  18. Mary Says:

    Karin, of all the poems I read for the peace prompt, this is one of them that has truly moved me at the visceral level. I FELT it, the feelings you were trying to portray. What a simple but gut-felt peace there is when something is shared and enjoyed. If only we would all share what we have with those who don’t have, what a beautiful world it would be. I bet you wish on occasion that you had given her that entire bottle of shampoo!! Thank you for this beautiful offering.

  19. What a lovely remembrance of this simple, sensual moment. What a gift to make it so real to us.

  20. Glenn Buttkus Says:

    You did intertwine our olfactory with our heart strings, taking us back into the heat of a distant land, a different time & space; lovely memory, & terrific poem; one that nurtures both hope & sadness, as peace can be a fleeting as that shampoo, so we need to maximize our joy when it is upon us; thanks K.

  21. Grace Says:

    I like how you took the everyday simple activity of showering & washing the hair, and relating that experience to peace, her face a prayer of serenity ~ Beautiful K ~

  22. vbholmes Says:

    Wonderful capture of the joy of physical indulgence after a period of deprivation. Easy to imagine the satisfaction derived from the smell and feel of something as simple as real shampoo from your description.

  23. claudia Says:

    oh nice…sounds like that meant much to her… a connection with home… things she almost forgotten remembered again..? i met a woman in australia who had traveled in asia for a year or so…and she said there was no shampoo…just some kind of cheap soap and she was like in heaven when she washed her hair with real shampoo again..

  24. You have become a poetic goddess, my elephant loving friend…. Miss Manic, this poem is wonderfully sensual and alive…. Thank you for sharing…..

  25. They changed that shampoo for a while and have now returned to the original. There is a healing balm in natural fragrances and body cleaning. Yet in this piece about peace and joy, you give us an insight into simple pleasure that bring peace and calm in a clamorous unruly world when fifteen cents of shampoo gave a woman a link to you that surpassed the everyday and formed a bond and intimacy beyond time and place. What an exquisitely rich poem!

  26. This was indeed another way to write about peace.. the sharing of shampoo… a closeness that linger in memory.. can’t think that this would ever happen between men the same way…

  27. I wash, a lot, I find no peace in it as hard as I try, my conscience will not allow it but I chase this regardless because I am human and washing is so us, isn’t it, primal but somehow cultured. you really capture something ‘real’ here, i feel it in my bones! 🙂

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