I knew the tongue but not the weight of the words.
I learned that love—so heavy where I come from
it must be solemnized by vows or dragged in by a hearse—here,
is like a broken string of pearls.
I still don’t know if that’s better or worse.
Those bodies were the first I knew. Their stretches,
folds revealed to me in the steam,
where my mother washed my little limbs without shame,
as comfortable as a cuckoo in a nest
in her flesh. Awed, I saw myself written in it.
I share this with American friends like a sacrament.
The first breasts I saw wept.
The first bare belly, a tide.
The first thighs, a conflux.
The gift of the Finnish sauna;
a faithful map of a woman’s past.
Yet, I have spent a wealth in water wanting a body
better suited to an American magazine,
paid time to make it more like a weapon than a well.