Elegy with Steam

by William Fargason

William Fargason

When I was sick with a head cold, my head
full of pressure, my father would soak a washcloth
in hot water, then ball it up, wring it out. He would
open it above my head, then place it against

my face like a second skin, the light around me
disappearing entirely except through the spaces
between the stitching. I would inhale the steam
in that darkness, hearing his voice on the other side,

otherwise almost devoid of any other bodily sense
but the warmth and depth of his voice, as if
I had already died and was on the other side
of life waiting for the sickness to lift, but I wasn’t.

I was still on this earth, the washcloth going cold
on my face, my body still sick, and my father still
there when I opened my eyes, as he always was,
there to give me warmth before going cold again.

Last updated July 26, 2022