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 chrissymartinpoetry.com.