Brandel France de Bravo is the author of Provenance (Washington Writers Publishing House poetry prize winner), Mother, Loose (Accents Publishing, Judge’s Choice Award) and the editor of an anthology of contemporary Mexican poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, the Cincinnati Review, Conduit, Gulf Coast, Pangyrus, and elsewhere. A public health professional, she currently teaches a meditation program developed at Stanford University called Compassion Cultivation Training.©
If It’s in the Way, It Is the Way
After getting my 94-year-old mother-in-law over the shower wall
and into the bath seat, still another hurdle.
I aim the hand-held at her back, thighs, and in-between, but the spray’s
too hot, too cold, too hot. Again. Just the right
temperature when she undressed, dropping pull-ups to the icy floor,
the water is no longer. Much the way help slides
into harm and back again. I reach for a valve (Is cold right or left?
Why do I forget?) and urgently turn until it won’t.
Then, with tiny twists, I try to dial perfection, a bank safe set to explode
like in the movies. This constant adjusting, life
as a series of hatch marks, numbers I can’t make out. Two years
into the pandemic: we hug, faces turned away
from one another’s breath. Always looking over our shoulder.
Our mouths are covered. Still, we sing.