Washing Carla’s Back – 1 am

 Her back cries tears as I wash it,
Water running down in dribbles,
Over her shoulder blades in rivers.

The green linoleum tiles are peeling beneath my knees,
Her head lowered and drooping,
Hair drifting – long strands floating on the bath’s surface.

I use a washcloth to clean her,
Not daring to touch her skin on skin,
Just my thumbs escaping,
As I rub her broad back from waist to neck.

My thumbs plow through soap bubbles,
Sliding over each tan mole,
The whorls of my thumbprints burning into her skin.

The furrow of her spine,
Hills of muscle flanking each vertebra,
Her wet smooth flesh,
Yielding under my hand, under the washrag.

A bare bulb is overhead – turned off,
Three sputtering candles on the toilet seat,
Flames wavering in the window’s draft,
We are illuminated.

About Avery Cassell

Avery Cassell is a queer butch San Francisco writer, poet, cartoonist, and artist who grew up in Iran.
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