Dad slipped slowly into the shower
arms braced for support.
Spiny gray hair showed sparse
and random, as warm water
coursed sweetly across
Washing him gently, I marveled, third-person,
at our easy intimacy, this man and his youngest
whose major meetings had been music and poetry,
bike rides and brownies, rarely touching
beyond a squeeze or hasty pat.
Yet here I was sponging his
modest penis, washing him gently
as I did my babies--
Sitting on the plastic stool, his hands
slowly circled both chest and cheek
in the dance of a century’s showers
as I stood at the open door
to receive him, soaked with water
tasting like tears.
Sarah W. Bartlett has multiple poetry publications in Aurorean, LiteraryMama, Minerva Rising, and SheMom; and one prior online publication, “For Keeps,” on Halfway Down The Stairs. Her first chapbook of poems is Into the Great Blue (Finishing Line Press, 2010); and currently in-press with Orbis Books (release September 2013) is HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write, co-edited with Marybeth Christie Redmond. She authored a chapter in the critically acclaimed Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland & Co., 2012); two in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages, (All Things That Matter Press, 2009); and a personal essay in Ars Medica. She operates Women Writing for (a) Change–Vermont, a creative writing program for women writing for self-discovery and social change. Sarah is staving off empty-nesthood by writing about the five children she raised and what she has learned from tending gardens, cat, and dog with her co-bicycling husband. She blogs at sarah-w-bartlett.com and writinginsideVT.com.
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