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Kate Gold: a poem

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 reflects

the fragile skull that's barely covered

by the white strands.

I am filled with tenderness,

as if you were my child.

The spring scent of shampoo

washes away the hospital odour

and the sadness of your body.

We return to your room

to find supper waiting.

So, I sit while you eat

and occasionally we smile.

Kate Gold lives on the edge of Dartmoor, UK and is a painter, poet and carer for elderly folk with dementia. She completed a Masters degree in Creative Writing with Bath Spa University and has taught creative writing and led poetry workshops in HMP Bristol.

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