The Child's Bath
A woman washing her daughter’s feet
in a porcelain bowl, shown
from your high angle,
forgive my slowness.
My waddle is all thumbs, my memory,
a steer’s rib cage
upturned, bleaching in a meadow.
When you first appeared
on the overhead
in Mr. McCloud’s class,
I confess my mind was on
that girl sitting in the back row
whose name I can’t recall,
but whose face now seems imprinted
along the same synapses
you course through.
Do some ducklings not recognize
Perhaps that’s why, here
before your original
at the Art Institute of Chicago,
I’m finally struck
by how I can’t see
the woman’s eyes or her daughter’s,
that I have to look down,
as they do, to the hand
cupping the toes dipped in water.
So much of you
is that drab striped dress, itself
a canvas for holding
the child. The rug, pitcher, bureau
there only to hint
this was a real room once,
before it became a tender gaze
held by a room
with no door for me to enter.
Jason Gebhardt’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the The Southern Review, Poet Lore, Iron Horse Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The William and Mary Review. His chapbook Good Housekeeping was a semifinalist in the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition and won the 2016 Cathy Smith Bowers Prize. He is the recipient of multiple Artist Fellowships awarded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He studies with Sandra Beasley, Stanley Plumly, and Elizabeth Rees.
The Ekphrastic Review
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