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, ring 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.
William Fargason is the author of Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara (University of Iowa Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Iowa Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, The Cincinnati Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. He earned a PhD in poetry from Florida State University. He is the poetry editor of Split Lip Magazine. He lives with himself in Sparks Glencoe, Maryland.