full circle

a friend of mine

mentioned in a poem

how stupid it is

to wash the dead

and being the contrary

prick i am

i had to disagree

you see i was with my mom

the week before she died

and you may think

i’m an asshole

for writing about this

but she hadn’t had a bath

for several days

prior to when i showed up

and wiped the shit

she couldn’t

i did the best i could

but it wasn’t good

for her or me

and when the bath lady

finally arrived

hours before fern’s death

and cleaned her

combed her

changed the bedding

and her night gown

she looked so good

so clean

so peaceful

(it seemed to me)

so happy

like she’d hung on

just to get spruced up

she told me

her mother always put on

clean underwear

before taking a trip

so she wouldn’t be caught

dead in shitty drawers

so maybe my friend is right

maybe we should think

about cleaning the dead

before they die

because once they’re gone

we only clean them

for ourselves

pretending they care

as if they were still alive

and that does seem selfish

or stupid i guess

but for weeks after

she was gone

i was haunted

by that shit—her shits

then gave in

and accepted it

the fact that my sons

might get the privilege

of wiping my ass

experience the wonders

of cleaning up at both ends

the comings and goings of it

i hope they do

because that’s the real shit

and fuck the rest of it

the noise and the toys

and the pride

you’re dead

when you’re born

but if you care

enough to care

for someone

who cares for you

it makes a little bit of sense

in this ridiculous escapade

to go the distance

whatever your body allows

and complete the circle

let others care for you

let them wipe your ass

let them clean

your shit—really

it may be the only thing

humans do as well as animals


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