Bio Note: I'm a Regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. I came to writing poetry relatively late in life when my muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. I'm in a wonderful supportive relationship with V-V Contributing Editor, Sylvia Cavanaugh. I'm the recipient of the Council for Wisconsin Writers 2018 Lorine Niedecker award for poetry.
Games in the Sauna at 190 Degrees
I play games to talk my mind into ignoring
what my body is feeling, the prickling skin,
the burn inside the nostrils, the irritation
of sweat-salt running into my eyes.
Today, after five minutes in the sauna,
just as the sweat was starting to pool
between my feet, another club member
entered and took a seat on the top tier
across from me.
Then the game began. This game is: I can
stay in here longer than he can. He’s younger
and fitter, but I’ve been practicing this game
for forty years. After 20 minutes (15 for him)
I started to worry that he was playing the same game.
Doubt surfaced, could I wait him out? By now
you could have swum in the sweat pool at my feet.
I told myself, one more minute...then one more...
and one more, until finally after 29 minutes.
He got up and left.
When the door closed after him, I waited
one extra minute to round out an even
half-hour. And once again declared myself
reigning (raining?) champion.
So, if you come into the sauna some day
and find me sprawled face down on the floor
where I will be lying DOA for you-don’t-know-how-long,
just ignore me. Just step over me to the top tier
and ignore me. Leave me to my postmortem dream
of arriving where Sister Henry Mary always said
us sinners would end up.
©2020 Ed Werstein
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