As a young gay man in the ’80s I was not only a regular patron of Toronto’s bath houses (“steambath” or “men’s health club“), I worked the overnight shift at one for a summer. Although I did not have the exact genealogical details memorized, I was aware that the Canadian artist Paul Peel- who my brother described here as “Canada’s Norman Rockwell” – was a distant relative. One of Peel’s most well-known pieces, with prints available from any number of sources, is After The Bath; shown here. I recall Grandma insisting on visiting it during one trip to Toronto.
There were some nights when my time at a bath house was spent writing poetic prose, including a few selections about being in a bath house. One selection is about traveling home after such a night. Of course it’s entitled “After The Bath“, and it’s reprinted below. It is also included in my chapbook In Pursuit Of A Dream – available as paperback or hard cover.
After The Bath, Paul Peel.
In the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario
Dad’s mother’s maternal Grandfather (my Great Great Grandfather) was Sir George W. (William) Ross. His third wife was Mildred Amelia Margaret Peel, Paul Peel’s sister.
With that history, it made perfect sense to use this image to mark my open letter to my nieces and nephews about learning their family history.
AFTER THE BATH
Stainless steel subway
Removes me– in space and time–
From my night-long
Celebration of sexual freedom.
Sweet revenge on a system
Sunk in a morganatic mediocrity.
To record the events is wasted ink;
Sexual statistics stir no man’s ‘soul’.
Not an orgasmic oracle,
I can not tell of eternal reality.
Only reveal the Self I see
Reflected in his eyes.
© Brian D Gryphon, All Rights Reserved
(From In Pursuit Of A Dream“)