The Only Promise of Winter

Nothing reminds me more
of Japan. Only stepping
into a warm shower in winter,

balancing the heat knobs, looking
into the mirror—into the naked body
before cleansing; the stranger

that is the wet self; the blur
of steam washed away for clarity
of vision—of the light smoke

of forgetfulness, and then, of rediscovery—
and the startled animal in the mirror
only breathing and thinking

of the day ahead, of the impending swoosh
of the curtain, of the cold behind every door
opened into the next morning, of drying

the self to the silence
of the escaping steam,
conversing with itself.

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