Since 1996 Volume XXI
Ottoman Dome curved above our wet bodies,
the first time I saw you,
your breasts hung naked,
two gunny sack badges
from nursing children and men's sorrows.
You wore them proudly, offered me directions.
Lady. There. Go. 10 minutes.
I was stretched on a red towel.
my back pressed against the milky marble.
You told me your Turkish name meant flower or happy,
and turned your face away as if you were not telling the truth.
Then you started to work me over,
tossed brass bowls of lukewarm water down my back,
over my head, scrubbed me hard from the heat, my sweat,
let me feel shreds of my dead skin,
washed me like my mother.
You were not afraid to touch the scar
running down the middle of my belly,
scrubbed behind my ears, slapped my back,
eased my body between your thighs and held me there, wet.
I found your cave of warmth and leaned into it.
I was your baby. You could've done anything to me.
Lady. You go. There.
I crawled on my stomach, face down,
breathed marble, steam, dome
cupped against my back.
Then the body scrubber of the bath house, sang,
notes curved in the air,
calligraphy from an empire
and its attendant women.
Everything went black.
Copyright, Lenore Weiss.