Thirty-Three Thousand Baths

You came to me croaking the breaths of the death rattle, so I gave you a bath. A bath of microwaved wet wipes, as if after a chicken-wing dinner. Ninety-two years of baths and I gave you your last. Tin-tub ice-creek water baths; porcelain baths pressed against your lover’s back; bucket baths in the South Pacific, your rifle leaning against the outhouse door; crying-under-the-running-water-so-your-children-can't-hear-you baths. Every nothing bath was a check mark on your way to me, to your last chicken-wipe bath before I placed you, clean and tidy, in a white nylon bag and sent you on your way.

Anna Volk

04.15.12