I helped Dad bathe three days before he died.
“Help clean me up, before I reach my end.”
I scrubbed his back; he could not see me cry.
‘ere I said goodbye to father, counsel, friend.
      His naked body; vital, once so strong
      Was now stooped: thin gaunt waspish, lessened might
      Where once his sinewed forearms did no wrong,
      ‘Twas all to do to hold himself upright.
I can’t recall my father’s naked frame
And not see all my heart within that place.
We share more, gainsay not a simple name
It is an age, a sagging of the face
           I’d love to wash my father one more time.
           For once, to cleanse bleak winter’s lonesome sign.


David L. Stanley, poet-in-residence at Bloomington’s TEDx salon in March 2023, has appeared in Bike Race Info, SamFiftyFour, Stanchion, Stand, Flyover Country, Porchlight Posts, The State News, The Good Men Project, and Soundings. He is featured with Li-Young Lee, Edgar Guest, and Quincy Troupe on The Art of Fatherhood.