Les Murray: Steam Bath World

Steam Bath World North, towards Polaris primates born near zero soak in volcano water glass melting in their fur, apes of Hokkaido and red-faced humans tip buckets on scorching rock under hides or timber and burst out, nude and limber, rolling in birch-tree shock. Iceland, Russia, Finland, Turkic speakers and Indio tie a rank culture-headband round the Earth’s high forehead. Their trusty towel is snow that arch Rome never took to, nor sphagnum moss, nor perfume. Sweat’s their archaic soap. Les Murray

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