Liz Prato
A Haole Guide to Hawaiian Taxonomy

Liz Prato - A Haole Guide to Hawaiian Taxonomy

Creative Nonfiction
Liz Prato is the author of the short story collection Baby’s on Fire (Press 53). Her work has appeared in… Read more »
Andrea Marcusa
Hammam Language

Andrea Marcusa - Hammam Language

Creative Nonfiction
Andrea Marcusa is a fiction and essay writer. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, River Styx, Ontario Review, New South,… Read more »
Michael Smith
The Way Home

Michael Smith - The Way Home

Creative Nonfiction
Michael Smith is a writer, Francophile, and photographer residing in Salt Lake City, Utah. His writing has appeared or is… Read more »
Tim Hillegonds
To Make at Once Both Tender and Fierce

Tim Hillegonds - To Make at Once Both Tender and Fierce

Creative Nonfiction
Tim Hillegonds earned a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing (MAWP) from DePaul University in Chicago. His work has… Read more »

Hammam Language

Andrea Marcusa

I feel around my tote for soap, shampoo, and a towel, then start down the worn stone stairway into the steamy darkness. At the bottom, stand worn and peeling green double doors marking the Hammam entrance. I doublecheck to make sure only one door is ajar, the sign I’ve been told that these ancient baths are open for women this afternoon. Two doors open would mean it was bathing time for men.

I relax as soon as I spot a handful of women start up the stairs. As they scoot past me, I’m engulfed in fresh scents of jasmine, sandalwood, and musk. There’s a celebratory friendliness, an easy intimacy in their bantering. Some are fresh-faced and young; others, elderly and lined and lumbering, are helped up the steps by the younger ones. Towels wrap damp heads. Some of them wear hijabs, while others let their drying hair fly free. Such a range of expression right there in front of me, in this ancient mountain town of El Kef, Tunisia, in this country where the Arab Spring first sprang and which is today, six years later, still so filled with contradiction.

I’m dressed to blend in, and sport the customary… Read more »