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Philip Dacey

Philip Dacey

Philip Dacey is the author of eleven books of poems, including Mosquito Operas: New and Selected Short Poems (Rain Mountain Press, 2010) and Vertebrae Rosaries: 50 Sonnets (Red Dragonfly Press, 2009). The winner of three Pushcart Prizes, he has written whole volumes of poetry about Thomas Eakins, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and New York City.

Washing His Son's Feet

No, he's not a baby,
he's 38 and sitting on my couch
in such a way I can see
the bottoms of his feet
and their seriously black accumulation.

Despite the social situation—
four of us, including his sister
and a friend of mine—and without
saying anything, I rise and go prepare
a plastic dishpan of soapy water,

then return to kneel like a supplicant
before him, who continues the conversation
as if I were not there sponging off each foot,
which I hold in one hand as I scrub
with the other, feeling the heft of what

has taken him so far already. And now
I remember how Mary, sister of Lazarus,
washed the feet of Jesus and dried them
with her long hair, though mine is in fact
so non-existent at my age I must

towel Austin's dry, thinking as I do
how good fortune sometimes comes
in the form of a son's dirty feet,
which, without embarrassment, thanks
to a good excuse, I can hold once again.


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