We Come In from the Fields, the Baths Fired Up and Waiting
We're walking. Slowly, in no big hurry.
Making stops just to stare at rooftops.
Smiling along, so only a few words
slip out into the evening, with its smells.
Then, all at once, we're in front of a place, darkening huge
under the peaks of poplar, birch and maple,
where to one side of the barn,
by the smudged alder bush,
the bathhouse stands, stoked warm and smoking,
the stone ovens glowing red.
In a fragrant warmth from the firelogs, in hot steam
off the birch-twigs, you can smell
how burning red the beaded skin gets
on top of blackened birch planks!
To wash away what dust got stuck,
shuffling the hay, carting oats in the heat,
the shoulders sweat-imbedded
from our great rush to heap up one last stack
ahead of the big downpour.
That same evening, with the hair still damp,
and after a fresh potato soup whitened with milk,
to stretch out in fresh-smelling hay:
how fresh it smells next to a body,
that white linen sheet!
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