Let Me Tell You About the Fireworks & Being Gone & Eloisa—
Eric Tran


How to explain the bathhouse to you, how I buy pricey eucalyptus soap because that’s
what’s dissolved in the steam room mist. I don’t like the smell—I think it’s rich
fool’s mint—but once a yoga instructor dotted eucalyptus oil on my temples and I was
taken back to that steam room, to the shadows of bodies against mist. I think of how to
describe the appeal of anonymity of both subject and object and I stupidly think of
party mix, where no single item tastes good really, but in the context each handful
feels right on your tongue. Last night, the men stood like ancient statues until one of
them wandered into the corner. Without any signal, other men followed one-by one, made
a mass of limbs and grunts. Eloisa, I wonder if what I mean to tell you is that my
wandering the hallways of by-the-hour rooms, waiting to catch any lingering glance, is
like some sex-starved Orpheus or Theuseus chasing his bull-hung minotaur. That I found
him, my lover ghost or half-beast, in the heart of the maze, sitting in the mist like a
grand mountain, that he was the only man I touched that night, that he came in mouth
without warning or a move to return the gesture. Maybe what I mean to tell you is
leaving the maze, minimally scathed but also prizeless, skin still hungry for warmth,
stopping by the water fountain to rinse or swallow. The man walked by me, that he was
and still somehow a dark sylph I can’t describe, that he reached out to grab my wrist

and gave it a gentle squeeze goodbye.


Eric Tran is a medical student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and received his MFA from UNC Wilmington. His work appears in Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Collagist, Redivider, and elsewhere. He is the author of Affairs with Men in Suits, a chapbook by Backbone Press. Tran is the recipient of NDR’s 2015 Matt Clark Editor’s Prize for Prose. For more, visit veryerictran.com

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