Washing my Father's Hair

I try my best to hide the shock but we both know that death has left a shadow on the skin that stretches over your bones.

Always upright, proper, polite. Now you slump, with the bag that performs your basic functions bulging discreetly beneath the royal-blue of your pyjamas.

I have never seen you helpless. You ask me to wash your hair. Each bubble reflecting the fragile skull barely covered by the white strands.

I am filled with a tenderness as if you were my own child. The spring scent of shampoo washes away the hospital odour and the sadness of your thin body.

We return to your room to find supper waiting. So, I sit, while you eat and occasionally we smile.

(Cumbria 2002)

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