AFTER I BROKE MY LEG
MELISSA FITE JOHNSON
At seventeen, too late, I understood
on a small scale what it was like
for my father in his last years
as he stared down the barrel of our staircase
cane in hand, as he sat on his bath board
waving the shower wand in his weak left grip.
I wished I could sit next to my father
on our couch, prop my left leg on the ottoman
beside his right. I wanted to laugh with him,
shrug hopelessly, Aren’t we a pair?
To go downstairs, I sat on our top step,
threw my crutches down the narrow aisle,
crab-walked down on three limbs.
Before bathing, I slipped off the brace,
my second skin. My mother
washed my hair in the sink—
each cup a waterfall down the drain.