Friday, 2 June 2017


by Ellen LaFleche

I unwrap a slab of soap scented with honey and milk
after I dip the washcloth in water so hot
it could make a living person shiver
as if the steam that scalds my palms
could unstiffen your limbs, could re-warm your bones,
could make you sit up in bed with the biblical grace of the risen

after I wash your eyelids, your lips, your temples,
after I dip my finger in the small font at the end of your spine
after I bathe you between your thighs
as if you could feel soap suds bursting against your glans
after I kneel by your bed
and dry your feet with my hair

I pick up the phone
and make the calls.

* * * * *

Ellen LaFleche is the author of three chapbooks: Workers' Rites (Providence Athenaeum), Beatrice (Tiger's Eye Press) and Ovarian (Dallas Poets Community Press.)  She won the Tor House Poetry Prize, the New Millennium Poetry Prize, the Hunger Mountain Prize, and the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Prize.  She is an assistant judge for the North Street Book Prize and a freelance editor.  She is currently finishing a manuscript tentatively titled Walking into Lightning with a Metal Urn in My Hands, a collection of poems following the death of her husband to ALS.  "After" is part of this manuscript.

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