Somebody left the door open

Fresh out the shower, I step across the tiles

It’s heat I pursue today.

I peer at the bright red digital numbers on the panel


That should do it

Normally when I pull open the sticky cedar door, the metal catch wrestles with me, just enough to make a clatter. And once I cross the threshold, the temperature slaps me across the brow, leaving me squinting, shielding my eyes from this imaginary sun.

But tonight I’m later than usual, and my friend who cares for the space must be ready to go home. He’s left the door ajar, and the heat out.

I step in, then backpedal out of the tiny room and double check that the heat is indeed still on.

Ah crap

I need this tonight

Where do we find heat?

In a world where energy saps, where an innocent interaction cuts to core, where small words pierce, leave us without

leave us cold



I hold my hand above the rocks.

I need heat


It seems there’s still a spell reserved for me

The ladle and two rounded wooden containers of water invite redemption.


I scoop a little bit and carefully drop it onto the rocks. Comforting steam immediately rises, hissing overtakes the space.

That’s how I know there’s still time. I dunk and empty the ladle three, four times. The heat is not quite so painful that I can’t take it, but I squint and push fingers against brow.

I whip the towel around three times as is done in Turkey, per my friend’s instructions. Take hold of it in two hands and snap it out, sending the hot air cascading through the tiny room.

The beauty of a sauna; no phone, (tonight at least) no others, no weight, no wait. It’s me space.

I lean into the heat, focus on patterns in the woodwork,

looks like an alien

and be.

Sweat gathers and sweeps away, gathers, and sweeps away.

And perhaps it’s the heat

or the day

or the combo platter.

But I break.

It’s really hard to distinguish sweat from tears

And so, as I lean back and shudder into the blazing wall

I let them flow.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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