Behind the locked door and the muffled, distant spray
of the shower's stream hidden by the sheer clean curtain
of plastic lining and steam I hear you tentatively say
to me, "Dad, could you please hand a towel in?"
The door handle clicks, to release the lock--I know--
and is cracked just enough to allow my hand through
the fissure where the fresh towel meets your hand below,
a humid cloud of warm water in air, followed by, "Thank you."
And the door is shut once more just as quickly, its lock again
clicked in place. It is all right. I understand. I am your father.
The unbidden, cherished privacy of a teenager in
between--young girl, young woman. This is the way it is, and not a bother,
though I must confess to a certain sense of something lost.
Those days when these hands of mine gently held tight
to your writhing, slippery body floating beneath tossed
waves of cleansing water in the bathtub every night.
Your dark eyes blinking up at me, trusting the hold I had.
The end of day, each day, the time between us. A baptism and renewal.
The world outside would stop for us, little girl and her dad.
Kneeling by your tub, a man in the grip of a daughter's grace. A fool
forgiven foolish lives. A memory in the flow of our bath ritual.
A sacrament soaking both of us in your gentle, splashing play.
A consecrated time now past, enfolded in the warmth of an unfolded towel...
I simply stand outside the locked door, now, and walk away.