The Bath House




We go to the public bath-house
Gossip house
For a good clean-out of body and tongue
Old building
Still sits ancient
Past voices and weary bones
Still linger
Teenage brides scrubbed till they sparkle

When we go in
My grandmother takes a ticket
Whilst
My baby doll sleeps in my arms.

Inside the giant hall
Gutted and hollow
We sit and wait
Sounds echo all around
Bouncing against the high glass dome ceiling
Distant voices
Muffled and eerie
Water, washing and unwilling children
drunken mist
Creeping in
To dance around my skirts
tugging and teasing
hungry to soak up my skin
ready to serve me

my heart beats faster
to churn more anticipation
the smell of damp earth and clay
seeps into my head
cuddling my tastebuds
pulling me in hungry.

The metal sheet door
bangs us in
and we peel every layer.
with towel wrapped around
we are ready to dig the dirt.

Skinny fat
without teeth gold teeth young old women naked
all around
waddle, slumping.
Rolls of flesh and skin
gorged with lather and foam
scrub and wash
slide and wallow in water
heavy and lazy
the bathing hall humming and buzzing
wraps us in
the packed steam
as my grandmother takes my hand
and I grudgingly let the towel slip.
This time
the steam melts into my pores
to ooze out the dirt
from the street
flannels slap and squelch
old skin is rolled away
I sit on the hard stone ground
And squeeze my legs together tight
for fear of being shown.

My baby doll still sleeps in my arms.