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Lessons in Comfort

The week my father dies, I give him a bath

in the garden tub. We bought one with jets

to console his back, but the well water rusted

their circles shut, stained the edges and dirtied

this small sanctuary. Even new, the jets

couldn’t touch the deep hurt of his body,

crushed disks, fused spine. This form

of helping I thought would last. His small voice

from the bathroom tells me he needs me

so I come with the plastic Cleveland cup

from the kitchen to dip into the bathwater.

His arms touch both sides of the wide tub.

The goosebumps on his back, cool water,

asking me how long he has been sitting here.

We both pretend the water’s film covers more

than it does when I break the surface

with the cup, ready to rinse the unlathered soap

from the crook of his back he couldn’t reach.

Chrissy Martin is a PhD student at Oklahoma State University and a recent graduate from the Poetry MFA program at Columbia College Chicago. She also holds a BA in English from The University of Akron. She is the Poetry Editor for Arcturus and an Editorial Assistant for Cimarron Review. Her work has appeared in Amazon's Day One, Voicemail Poems, (b)OINK, Bad Pony, and Lit.Cat. Find her at

Chrissy Martin
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