seth howard | public bath in seoul


The money meant nothing to me
I didn’t know how much it was worth
Fingers fumbled through my leather wallet, when she
Asked me to pay, I showed her different bills
She smiled as her slender fingers pulled out
What seemed to be, much too much
She never gave me any change

A waft of steam, hot humid air
Blast of heat, like a mid-summer day—
When opening the car window only blows
More hot air into your face
A momentary lapse of consciousness
Try not to look
An entrance made through sliding doors
As if to greet me, wandering eyes glance my way
Embarrassment was only a step I had to take
And yet, that meant nothing here as well
Away from the world
The cluttered bustle of the streets
City lights, glow of phosphorescent signs
They would never know, what went on down here
The nozzle spurts out a torrent of steamy water
Soap suds float across tile floors like a body adrift
In a river, warm rain, cleanse me of my sins

My legs lift from the floor, as the sound
Of voices echo between the walls, fragments of
Conversations overheard, in a language I did not know
One forms meaning, recognizing sound
Familiar, tones, transformed into one of the other
Languages you knew, I lower myself into
The shallow depths
Sinews steeped in hot water mist
Nurtured by the flow of warmth, the mind
Lets go of hardship, slow of time
Sink further as the neck submerges
Breath becomes almost indiscernible, thought
Meant something once, meant something
Somewhere long ago

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