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Margaret Rosche

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Washing Dad
by Margaret Rosche
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Recent poems by Margaret Rosche
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Caretaking as transformation, rebirthing, redemption.

WASHING DAD


First there were three:
my love my Dad, and I,
bonded by near deaths, altered states,
born-again selves.

Husband and father laid low,
then lifted up by strokes of fate.
Related in-law and by unmanly disability:
second father, first son, daughter-wife.

Stroke-bound brothers:
one found new life in caring,
one the son he never had,
and I, a family of three.

Then there were two.
As if wifely grief were not enough,
I got to fill empty arms
with withered, fragile, father-flesh
and, drowning old paradigms…wash him.

No hiding from this
final dissonance.
I soaped and scrubbed, and dried
the loins that gave me life.

He cried, helpless, shivering,
raging impotent,
against the cold
and choice-less age.

Nearer the end, all dignities aside,
me, stripped to shorts and tee,
Dad, pale trembling flesh In the shower,
wet with water and filial tears: our finest hour.

Time circled around as he clung to me,
afraid to fall.
(Remembering… my first two-wheeler:
he ran beside, held me up
when I was afraid to fall).

New divinity discovered,
unsought, un-thought,
worlds away from where we were:
my Father, naked in the shower.
God uncovered.

Childhood upside-down,
parenthood reversed,
meaning that, childless, I never hoped to know:
redeemed, re-born
…washing Dad.








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