Betty Warrington-Kearsley

Betty Warrington-Kearsley reads “Onsen in Izu”

Onsen in Izu

(Thermal Spas in Japan)

We bow acknowledgement as we slip into the vapour veil of steaming baths, stripped to our glass biographies.

Beneath the scrutiny of lowered lids rewritten history is curiously read from acres of an aging landscape

well-weathered to a mature shape, the way hills round, valleys fill and scarred escarpments soften, smudged

in scented volcanic sludge, lathered, scrubbed, effleuraged satin, sluiced, sauna'd and soaked in the sweltering subterranean flows

fuelling spas, roadside geysers and blow holes spurting from crooks of devil-elbows.1 Nothing matters here, it seems, and least,

nudity. Anonymous, we’re held in eery surreality, ghostly shadows of mama-sans and nubile willows

in dim-lit fog, glistening amber smooth. Indifferent to sweating last night's sweetness, sake and sashimi, and yesteryear's vinegar

and piss; tears unshed for unconsummated living, stifled yearnings, fears, years of neglect, sadness for the nature of things,

regret—all materialize and torrent down the impartial windows overlooking the sea. Sweat flows scalp to toes in steady streams

until unfettered, we tenderly nurse our newborn shadows recovered from the karmic rubble of imperfect dreams.

1Devil-elbow (bends) are acute-angled bends in roads that zigzag up and down steep hills or mountains


Betty Warrington-Kearsley, of Ottawa, Canada, writes stories, essays, poetry, and publishes nationally & internationally. Red Lacquered Chopsticks, Poems, her debut book, was published in 2006. She’s currently completing a short story collection. [provided with the poem “Onsen in Izu”]

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