Getting a massage in another country

Outside, it kept raining— eternal,
infernal rain, tenting us in.

The Australian tourists were going to miss
their bus, since they ordered a taxi late.

Someone was calling the front desk at the station,
trying to ask them to wait. The lobby smelled

like liquefied rubber and raincoats, runny
newsprint, coffee, boiled peanuts. Downstairs

in the bookstore, lamplight held the color
of melted tallow. I made my way to the third

floor, where two rooms had been designated
as a spa. Only one other client was signed in

at the counter. A woman gave me a pair of plastic
slippers, a cotton bathrobe, a thin folded towel.

The shower was thinner than the rain, but hot.
In one of the rooms, the light was more than dim;

I lay on a cot partitioned by curtains. Hands
moved over my back, my nape, my limbs, spreading

oils speckled with sugar or salt, the faint
trace of ginger flowers. I sank into the sheets,

heavy as a stone and damp. The woman who pressed
into my muscles with her fingers was deft though she

was blind. She knew how to work the levers of my spine until
something caught and released, until something fell away.

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