Kwame Dawes

· Poem of the day,Parents


After a while, you don’t bother

with the brief and the pajamas;

you leave him on the sheet,

make him shit himself, then

shift over to the other side

until I can come, lift up

the body, wipe his bottom

with a soft cotton cloth, bundle

up the sheet with two more

in the corner, straighten

out the plastic over the mattress—

sometimes you have to wipe

it, too, then put a towel

under him until the other

sheet dry, and all the time,

you don’t say a word,

you don’t ask for nothing.

You let your hand brush

against your father’s back

and pray his dignity will last

another day. This is how

a man must care for his father;

quiet, casual, and steady.

—Kwame Dawes (Shook foil)

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