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.

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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