There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting
in a lawn-chair, naked—forgetting
the inevitable bacteria transferring from body to body,
or acknowledging how you, surely, have the highest
concentration of body hair in this whole country.

There is a rule that says, do not let your hair
touch the water. I try to not think too much about this,
as I know I have no power to abide by it.

There’s a freedom and pride in this breed of nudity,
in stripping daily clothes and obligations and throwing them
into the containment of a locker. No distractions.
I also peel off concerns like: “someone will notice
my nipples,” or “does he still remember me,
after all this time away—” We all
have our pained scabs to remove.

I think of Sayori and I in Tenjin station, wearing
costume stick-on moustaches during rush hour,
the men in suits who completely turned their bodies
to look at our insubordination. Sayori said,
They’re looking at me. I said to her, This is what
it feels like to be white. Sayori wears floral jumpers
and dresses her face in make-up. I want to ask her,
what are you hiding?

This time when I return to the onsen, I know
the system. I carry no towel with me. I sit
on the stool and wash soap over my back.
When I’m done, I let the water pool around my ankles.


Photo by ja:User:Sanjo (Own work (Own Photo)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.