Everyone is wet.
I’m frayed and dreamy
but done with sponge baths,
my skin’s gritty.
My team―husband, sister,
nurse, conspires a shower.
As if a sacred rite, they prepare
in silence. Soon, all three are barefoot,
pant legs folded up and tucked.
They roll me into a room of limestone tile,
prop me on a plastic stool,
a rosy heatlamp glows above.
My trolley of IV’s nestles in the corner
leashed to my wrists. Shoulder to shoulder they
maneuver, a crowded kindness,
soaked in warm showerspray.
Nurse cradles nine drains that
hang from incisions,
so they don’t pull,
husband warms the water in a nozzle,
as if I were a newborn. Sister tips my head back,
smooths suds into my scalp.
Bit by broken bit of me cleansed,
iodine stains the drain.
A ritual, this baptism,
this turn toward home.
Lucy Griffith has published two collections of poetry, We make a Tiny Herd, which won both a Wrangler Award and a Willa Award, and Wingbeat Atlas. A former hospital administrator, she lives on the Guadalupe River near a town called Comfort.