The Sunday Poem: Merimee Moffitt... Three-Bucket Bath

Called "hippies" by a nation embroiled in war and inter-generational conflict, much of young America took to the road searching for a more compassionate, peaceful, and authentic way of life. Many came to New Mexico. And many stayed. That story shines through brilliantly in "Three-Bucket Bath." The poem brings a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes.

Merimee Moffitt left the Pacific Northwest in May 1970 in a shiny green Chrysler with two Viet Nam vets, one girl friend, their pot connection, and her big white poodle, Tonga. She was along for the ride to El Rito where she met her son’s father, and the new couple moved to Vallecitos into a growers’ cabin some hundred years old. She now resides in Nob Hill with her husband, Randy, two dogs and a cat and whatever kids or grandkids drop in for a visit. She has a "moderately unkempt" website at and posts her writing in Notes on Facebook.

Currently Moffitt has been hanging out in the slam scene. She teaches writing at CNM.

Three-Bucket Bath

a long sloping pasture to the river
across one ditch then down along the barbed wire fence line
the easiest way
galvanized buckets and a plastic jug—two people to tote
a 3-bucket bath
pour one-half into the washtub by the stove
another shower-like, squatting under your lover
who bends over pouring, dangling a hand-rolled cigarette
from his sweet lips
soak up, soap, splash
shampoo and pour slowly again
could be 30-below in bright-white light
the third bucket gives your skin a glow
half a minute of wet-skin NM morning bliss
the old cook stove heats the cabin
our clear plastic door inside the heavy keep-out-the-bear affair
welcomes the sun bouncing back across the valley
two tiny windows set into logs older than our grandparents
leak a little air, we didn’t know to care
didn’t think to re-chink mocha-colored adobe filling
Fermin came down that fall to let us know
about the winters how we’d need lots of wood
asked his curious, hat-crumpled questions
Geronimo brought a sheep and left us with half
packed in the blue trunk in the north-side snow
we had no idea how much we didn’t know
all we could do was stoke the firebox
and keep each other company under
piles of quilts on your big iron bed from California
the week our son came into us it was 47 below
the beginning of just about everything
that winter in Vallecitos, 1971

Submissions to The Sunday Poem are welcome. Send one or two poems with a short bio, any links, and a picture to

Views: 201

Comment by cathyray on March 22, 2009 at 10:13am
thanks for the "flashback" this morning. very nice images.
Comment by JMG on March 22, 2009 at 10:15am
Nice poem! Love the picture, too
Comment by Richard V on March 22, 2009 at 1:52pm
great reflection of a more simpler life. reminds me of when i was in the army and being in the field, taking a bath using only the water my helmet could hold, in the winter in colorado. amazing what we can do with the least when we put our mind to it. thanks...
Comment by Hakim Bellamy on March 23, 2009 at 7:59am
Word Merimee.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on March 24, 2009 at 11:03pm
Thanks to all commenters.
Comment by cc on March 28, 2009 at 9:49am
Merimee - you have covered so much in this flowing poem. Great tribute. And I know you better now!
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on April 3, 2009 at 12:52am
Thx cc--nice blog site! mm
Comment by Rich Boucher on May 9, 2009 at 4:39pm
I love this poem.
Comment by Georgia Santa-Maria on October 14, 2009 at 4:01pm
Oh, Yeah! You got it. Thanks.


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