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Published: Tue Jul 1 2003
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
The Hose

A hose ran through our house, used
to wash our windows down; to keep
us teenagers in line; to dilute Father’s
martoonis; “to make life a little more
exciting,” Mother said.

When Mother turned 70 and renamed us
“Enormous One,” and
“One Who Walks Bare on Rug,”
and “One Who Hideously Shares My Bed,”
and “Which One”

we hosed her into the corner of her dressing room—
Strong Medicine.
Clean out the cobwebs.
Cold showers are a cure-all.
Shock therapy.

Mother would giggle herself silly when we’d towel her dry,
dust her with powder, pull the bedrails up.

Martha Rhodes is the author of three collections of poems: At the Gate (Provincetown Poetry Series, 1995), Perfect Disappearance (New Issues Press, 2000), and Mother Quiet (Zoo Press, 2004). Her work has appeared in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Fence, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and many other magazines. She is director of Four Way Books and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives in New York City. (updated 6/2010)

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