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.
How to get you into the spirit of the weird and wonderful book where Makeover resides? A Wellington poet who has a long relationship with Rotorua, John Horrocks' new collection Something in the Waters looks at the history of this North Island town - a thermal spa where visitors went to bathhouses to be offered mud, massage, electric shocks and x-rays for a range of conditions.
Very cool indeed.