sponge bath

Shampoo & Sponge Bath
by J. W. Marshall

1.

It takes a small face
to see itself
in the handmirror offered

when staff says
it’s time to wash that greasy hair.
Says it’ll help.

Like a tuber on the pillow
or the shadow of a spade
is how

I remember looking. Water slopped
on my gown and skin and sheets.
When they laid my head back

into the metal basin
I died and happily that time.

2.

There was a terrifyingly large sky
that first day they rolled me
out for air.

Terrifyingly.
And clouds like balled-up cobwebs.
What if the chair got caught

in a crack or on a rock—I watched for that.
There’s one the orderly said
meaning a cloud

that looks like you.
There was weakness in each of them.
There was a fraying wind. A mess

he said like you
before your bath.

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