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

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