I Bathe Myself and Other Women Bathe Me

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We are more cultured than Aphrodites; African Venuses scooping up water like handfuls of glittering sequins with our shiny plastic shells.  We each pour water down our backs like mermaids sitting on tiled floors before our own personal hot springs tapped in tiny facets along the walls.  I ladle myself hefty handfuls of Rhassoul, rubbing its black consistency methodically into every orifice, every corner of skin, until I have planted the fragrance of olive deep into my pores.  The floor of the hammam radiates heat and shoots up its soothing sultriness into the soles of our feminine feet.  It diffuses upwards until every muscle forgets the meaning of apprehension. As the osmotic vapor dissolves our worldly images, our divinely endowed glow begins to dim; the water continues to ebb and erode the stone of our being into perfectly articulated edifices of masterpiece.  We internalize the inherited light of the angels embedded in the gait of our social demeanor.  It is our own luminescence that we keep for ourselves—the one that heats the cockles of our bellies deep in the recesses of our womanhood.  I bathe myself and other women bathe me.  tumblr_nn66lrteF01qas1mto7_1280I rebuke the solitary West that enslaves women in time and I bathe myself and other women bathe me.  Other women, who do not gnash their jealous teeth at my wounds, scrub the grit and salt from my flesh.  Other women, who occupy the same space, bare their naked bodies to each other and return to themselves.  Yes, us as women, us as the other and collective women, feel our breasts and our collarbones, rub elbows, knees, armpits, and continue along the exposed curves of spines with unguarded hands. We women climb out of our societal coffins, discard the flowers of condolence that build up on the doorsteps of our identity, rebuke the fetishized fantasies of men, and circulate the same air like the biggest shared secret in the universe.  We, the geishas, the queens, the empresses and sultanas of the heavens; we the adventurers and crossers of national boundaries who weep because we have reasoned and grappled with feeling; who perform acts of love in perfect symmetry; who stand defiantly with contrapposto swings to our hips—we are ones who bathe each other and celebrate the blessing of our births. And it is here, the hammam, that is the place of our homecoming.  We, us, the other women, subversive vessels of mysterious power, together, exist in the liberation of our bathing.

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