He mentions it first, the awkwardness, one grown man bathing another.
I have thought it, and tried not thinking it, and have quietly cursed
his wild anger breaking and destroying
even moments such as these that should be private.
It is awkward washing his hair, now grown long like mine.
I last bathed him when he was a baby,
maybe older, maybe two, when his hair was short and fair,
but this boy is not a baby, his head hard beneath my scrubbing fingers,
his back broad and strong,
he is a son becoming more man than I can ever handle.
I rinse his hair and wash the soap from his back,
say, “Here,” and toss him the washcloth.
“You can do the rest, you still have one good hand.”
It is then that he says it, not before, and I nod and grunt in agreement,
sitting on the toilet, staring at the floor, counting the tiles.
Cecil Sayre is a visiting lecturer for the English Department of Indiana University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Naugatuck Literary Review, Slipstream, and Southern Indiana Review.
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