I’m up to my neck in hot water,
up to my eyeballs in the shared flesh of the mothers
who pad softly across the tiles,
some with a modest and inadequate
white towel knotted under their breasts,
others simply, unashamedly clothed
in the pleasure of their own skin. We’re a menagerie
of no mean proportions; one woman
looks like a stork, skinny, mottled
legs beneath a huge wobbly behind. Another is massively
elegant, like a rhino lowering
herself to the blessing of water.
There are the young Asian girls, dark nipples
like the centers of black-eyed Susans,
their slim waists and the slight
buds of their hipbones like the beginnings
of antlers on yearling deer. There are two
black women, rosy bronze shoulders, legs like trees,
their hair tied up in strips of marigold
sun-cloth from Kenya. No such beast as white here;
the heat draws color
to everyone’s skin, just different shades
of terra cotta, peach, blood honey. I’m part fish, floating
unanchored, all breath and bubbles in this place where
their bodies are my body, are all our body,
the childbirth scars, the folded breasts,
the innocent long crack bisecting the buttocks, the dark
country of the labia as one hoists
herself up awkwardly onto the wet tiles and another slips
shyly then surely into the water.