A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

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"How to Wash Your Hair After Back Surgery When You Can’t Take a Shower" by Valerie Bacharach

How to Wash Your Hair After Back Surgery When You Can’t Take a Shower

Let your husband gather towels, shampoo, conditioner.

Feel how carefully he takes your hand, checks the water,

not too hot nor cold, but like Goldilocks searching, just right.


You love your husband’s hands, the way he gentles young plants

into earth, hangs the hummingbird feeder so it is in your eyesight

as you sit on the couch.


Let him help you as you bend your head to the spray,

feel how his steady presence

steadies you.


With less precision than the surgical team, he directs

the water while you lather, rinse, condition, rinse,

a towel around your shoulders, water all over the floor.


The two of you look slightly ridiculous, your white hair

plastered to forehead, his t-shirt celebrating

drumming soaked.


But look how you grin at each other, his hand gripping

yours in such a firm way that it is impossible to know

where his body stops and yours begins.

Valerie Bacharach

Valerie Bacharach’s book, Ghost Recipe, is forthcoming from Broadstone Books. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Her poem, "Birthday Portrait, Son" was selected for inclusion in 2023 Best Small Fictions. Her poem, "Shavli," has been nominated for Best of the Net 2023.



Valerie Bacharach
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