Jacques Rancourt


Whatever I expected,
it was not that the dungeon
would be stone-quiet, that bodies

in this low light would turn abstract,
that the demeanor of the men
pacing the halls for sex would be

polite. One of them reaches
out his hand to touch my torso.
They, like me, came out after,

while in the center pool, the old
men soak. These tunnels, dark and damp,
industrial steel halls that snake,

offer doors with slots for passerby’s
to watch. I wanted to see if the bathhouse
would permit me, if walking these

halls would be like walking into
the labyrinth of the past. The men
in the pool, they lift themselves in and out;

they are the ones with the memories
of who gathered here once, memories
I have no right to inherit.

They are like a council of stars,
lit up blue from beneath. They laugh
silently and touch each other,

or float on their backs, staring up
at the show of light on the ceiling,
half in this world, half in another.

And for a long time I watch them
from behind the slats in the wall
as they lean their heads against

each other, as water falls in pearls
from their flabby arms, to see—
like Polaris burning in a field

of dead stars—what still lives.

  • blue
    Lauren Michele Jackson