on the page magazine

issue no. 8, autumn 2002


The Touch of Her Skin

by Angela Mankiewicz

Lying on her belly, she raises her nightgown
above her waist, manipulating, side to side,
arthritically, across the sheets.

Her thighs are still well formed, shapely but thin;
her skin is off-white, unexpectedly unwrinkled.
But it is her skin.

She tells me where the lotion is, how good it felt
when the nurse at the hospital massaged it
into her back.

Not a good idea, I say, right after a shower,
you might get a chill. She grunts while I
confront her skin.

Get the powder, then, she says, on the sink,
in the bathroom. I do as I'm told, dragging my will
behind me.

Okay, I say, like a dull-witted but dutiful child.
She squirms with anticipation. I blink
at maternal buttocks.

Do something, she doesn't say. So, I do,
raising the box of talc and sprinkling
a snow drift down her spine.

Now what? A presumption of old age, an intimacy,
without precedent, waiting for me
under tiny mounds of fluff.

I set my eyes on the sheets, set one hand on
the fluff, move it in quick circles and say,
Okay again.

In the kitchen, I set my eyes out the window
and scour my hands to rid them of the touch
of her skin.

Angela Mankiewicz has published two chapbooks, Cancer Poems (UB Press) and Wired (Aquarius West Press). Her work has appeared in Lynx Eye, Lummox Journal, The Temple, The Montserrat Review, Pemmican, and Hawai'i Review.

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