On his eightieth birthday, up at the lake
first snow, ‘ensilumi’,
fell in spirals of white garlands through
the dark branches of spruce and alder.
The old gang of party-makers
climbed out of their station wagons
and picked their way across the ice
towards the old smoke sauna.
Inside, the enormous mound of rocks
spat and hissed, voices swelled
with heat and memories, vowels expanding
to a drone like a tape running down.
He sat among them like a shadow, the thought
haunting his body until it punctured
through the steam and the years: how
she had got herself up there that night,
pain tearing at her young womb,
how she might have welcomed the pall
of smoke, her scream bouncing out
across the unflinching lake.