The Corpse Washer


The Corpse Washer


You do not pull away your arm

as I move the wash cloth, praying

toward your shadow left behind.

A bomb exploded, causing harm,

tearing limbs, made others blind,

in a street of shops, as we were saying

our farewells, so calm, without alarm --

blending blood, glass bits, and steel,

where couples walked or shopped and dined.

This one lean statue on a bench

of marble waits for me to wash

and shroud, before it disappears.

The face I knew. Its features wrench

me back from sleep and unknown fears.

And as I finish, slowly toss

the remnant used, my fingers clench

the bowl to bathe a lonely tree,

feeding on the dead, and tears.               



Royal Rhodes


Royal Rhodes is a retired teacher of global religions, religion & literature, and death & dying. His poems have appeared in print and online journals, including:

BEARINGS,  Snakeskin, The Lyric, Cholla Needles, Harbinger Asylum, and in a series of art/poetry collaborations with The Catbird [on the Yadkin] Press in North Carolina. His current project is an exhibition on The Art of Trees.


  1. service to humankind is the ultimate sacrifice in my book, i usually wonder if we are worth such effort. some days i see that we are

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