I wash my mother with a rag.
A slick bar of soap floats
in a small tub of water;
Her nakedness is open to me.
The woman who bore me is vulnerable before me.
I’m imagining my primal birth:
dark water over softs rocks in a brook.
I emerge covered in blood and mud
from the creek onto dry land,
gasping my first breath.
My mother cradles me in her arms, wipes mud from my eyes,
pulls me to her breast.
As a child, she washed me
and put me to bed,
but those footie pajamas are worn thin;
there’s a hole in the sole.
Winnie the Pooh’s honey is gone.
My mother’s hands, once strong,
now covered with thin soft skin like wet tissue,
lie trembling in her lap—
hands that held me, fed me,
spooned bitter medicine into my mouth,
now helpless, worthless stones of flesh.
I cut a fresh diaper with scissor-snips.
I slip her diaper over her feet.
Spots of red nail polish speckle her toe nails,
reminding me everything fights to hold on—
I lay her down in bed like a child
upon fresh linen.
I fix her pillow.
She likes to watch westerns on TV,
so I turn it to her favorite channel.
She’s seen this one a hundred times,
and so have I.
Charles Canady is an artist, writer, and poet from Fayetteville, North Carolina. His writings have been published by The Fayetteville Observer and Carolina Country. He is also the author of Learning To Forgive, a Christian help book on the subject of healing. He is currently pursing a B.A. in writing at Methodist University. When he’s not creating, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children and choking a tune from his fiddle.