willow branches against the hull. Even the lightest pressure hurts,
and she weeps. Kneeling beside the tub, I support her neck with one
hand while I shampoo her head with the other. Thin shreds of hair
detach from her scalp and gather in my palm. She bows her head and
rocks a little, forward and back, her withered legs flopping open. Her
vertebrae are little apples softening in the heat, rocks on the river
bottom that shimmer and dissolve in the light, little tumors like the
ones within her, spreading through her lungs and glands like a flood
of mold, a village of tiny fists. Touching her body is like reading
Braille, but nothing is explained. Lifted from the water, she is wood
dripping life, she is air with light bleeding through.
"Bathing Susan" first appeared in Many Mountains Moving, Volume II, Number 3, and is the Literary Award Nominee for Poetry. The work appears here by permission of the author.
Original Graphic Image, "Remain" © 2000 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal