On a late Friday night in the sauna, women gather,
stripped down to their underthings or just wrapped
in a white towel becoming spools. Even though we melt
like candles, it’s not as hot as my mother’s country
where I stood in my great-grandmother’s yard
becoming wood like the cows who did not move
when the flies settled on them. We sweat and sigh
as our scars begin to glisten and ripple, come alive
with their burning. You could unzip us like coats, and
we could almost step out of ourselves, but no,
we’ve spent too long breaking ourselves in. We sigh
and sweat. Some talk a little about shopping
or a future, but mostly we sit quietly, nun-like.
The young ones are out dancing, lying with their lovers.
We are here with each other in girlhood again. The cedar
smell, the forests at camp, the sweat like chicken in the oven.
Nicole Greaves holds an MFA from Columbia University and an MEd from Chestnut Hill College. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary reviews and was awarded prizes by the Academy of American Poets and the Leeway Foundation of Philadelphia, and she was the 2022 recipient of the Open Doors Fellowship at Porches Writing Retreat. She is the author of Having Witnessed the Illusion published by Glass Lyre Press. Find her at nicolegreaves.com.