The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Evanescence or shedding the weight of self-awareness

Rachael Conlin Levy


Tale padre...tale figlia!
Courtesy of Luca Rossato.

  1. A gradual disappearance.
  2. The state of becoming imperceptible.

I was naked and this was not a dream.

The bath house was quietly busy as women shed clothes and stepped into the pools, their bodies melting into the hot water, or tensing as they pushed themselves down into the cold. I took off the robe I’d been issued and tucked it into the assigned cubby, walked awkwardly across the wet floor and sunk into the first pool I reached, seeking the water’s warmth and evanescence.

I smelled chlorine, glanced at the women, then studied the room. There were four pools of differing temperatures. There was a trough filled with mugwort tea and bowls to scoop up the tea and pour it over my body. There were screens of maybe bamboo or reed that led to beds were women were scrubbed, massaged, wrapped. There were two doors.

I opened the first door and stepped into a hissing, hot cloud of steam. I paused for my eyes to dilate in the darkness and found space on the bench. Each hot breath burned the edges of my nostrils. I opened the second door and walked into an oven of dry, crackly heat that smelled of wood and herbs. The air vibrated with anticipation and I breathed cautiously, imagining air molecules igniting inside my lungs. I breathed out fire.

I returned to the pools, this time studying the women sharing the water, looking into their old and young eyes, eyes that were mirrors reflecting my weariness, my need, my anticipation. In a room filled with rumpled, bony, saggy, wrinkled, smooth, full, round, angled selves, I existed. Unobserved.

5 responses to “Evanescence or shedding the weight of self-awareness”

  1. I haven't been to a bath house in a long time. I like your perspective, especially "looking into their old and young eyes, eyes that were mirrors reflecting my weariness, my need, my anticipation".

    PS – I see you are working. Excellent.

  2. anno says:

    mmm… this makes me wish we hadn't given up our gym membership, just so I could still use the sauna; reminds me of something by Flaubert or Zola. Sure wish I could evanesce some of chocolate bread pudding I've been eating.

  3. Rachael Levy says:

    Denise, research is important, you know. 🙂

    Kyndale, when you visit let's go!

    Anno, chocolate bread pudding … mmm.

  4. Andrea says:

    Sounds divine…just what my saggy, wrinkled, round body needs!

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