After Surgery, My Father Helps Me Bathe

By ANTHONY BORRUSO

 

Jobless, 26, a ghastly scab marching
         from the base of my skull down

my neck; beside me, my father kneels at the curtained
         threshold with a saucepan of warm

water. Steam obscures the boundaries between
         me and my past self, 6, smiling, slamming

the head of a red power ranger on faded
         ceramic tiles—oblivious, amphibious,

blanched in bathwater. My father sees me
         pruning memories and, politely, turns,

knowing well the subatomic gossip always
         whispering inside our bones. My father,

the policeman, who inhaled god-knows-what when
         the city really didn’t sleep. When who he is now

stepped out from debris like a gray-tarnished twin.
         We are a kind of pentimento. Me and me

and him all living like stubborn
         brushstrokes in a gilded frame.

 

[Purchase Issue 21 here.]

 

Anthony Borruso is pursuing his Ph.D. in creative writing at Florida State University, where he is an assistant poetry editor for Southeast Review. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, Spillway, The Journal, THRUSH, Moon City Review, decomP, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere.

After Surgery, My Father Helps Me Bathe

Related Posts

The Hundertwasser House in Vienna

Etude No. 2 and Etude No. 3

KIM CURTS MATTHEUSSENS
in Rome a monumental marble typewriter / ticked out their story into the sky: two lovers / devour time. she lay on the lawn near Trajan's / column. he plucked letters from her dress, / her hair, served them to her by hand, by mouth.

Image of an intensely green trailhead.

December 2022 Poetry Feature: Kevin McIlvoy

KEVIN McILVOY
On mine spoil. In debris fields / of asphalt and concrete and brick. / Upon sites of chemical spills. / Along lifeless riverbanks. / In clonal groves so hardy you / have to steel yourself for years / of killing to kill one acre. / Where construction crews rake off / the surface

field spotted with red flowers

December 2022 Poetry Feature

TOMMYE BLOUNT
It feels good grazing against my skin, / all that satin and muslin—a high / thread count to tuck in / the American Dream. Embroidery / and tassels fit for men like me / who would pay a good buck / to be a part of this invisible kingdom. / Ah! This flair for pageantry / seen in a film—