Dear Son, (The Bathtub) by Carolyn Mitchell

Poem title: Dear Son, (The Bathtub) Poet name: Carolyn Mitchell Poem: Your dad would get off the express at 5:00, before saying hello he’d ask what I’d done -all- day. I made sure I had good answers like: I scrubbed the toilet, cooked dinner, washed the floor. Once and while I’d say, we went grocery shopping. But that was rare because the agoraphobia had begun to rage silently inside me. The days I loved best were the ones when something forced us to stay home — a blizzard or runny noses. We’d have lunch, you’d nap, and I’d be a good wife – doing projects and chores. One spring day I said to four-year-old sister, In her pale pink and blue ballet costume, twirling and watching The Parent Trap. if the baby cries, give him his soother, I’ll be mowing the lawn. You did cry and she did not give you your soother. She banged on the window pointing in your direction mouthing— he’s crying. I motioned back, give him his soother. She shook her head slowly side to side, her eyes locked on mine. When I got to you You’d been crying hard — amped up to red hysteria. I ran a bath and got us undressed. I pulled your baby flesh onto mine and sunk into the water. We were together – warm, neck-deep. Your crying tamed and you turned your fuzzy copper head to one side under my chin. Bodies immersed — You drifted to stillness. We stayed until the water cooled then I wrapped us in a big cotton towel. Put on warm clothes, you in a onesie — we slid under the duvet on my bed and slept. This is the moment I grieve more than any other, since the divorce, when your twelve-year-old body emptied itself — I couldn’t fill the bathtub. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Carolyn Mitchell Mitchell is an artist living on the unceded lands of the Syilx Okanagan. A mother, sister, daughter, witch. A late bloomer, she returned to study for a BFA at the age of 56 in 2022. She spends her time dismantling paradigms that kept her from authenticity by painting, writing poetry and walking near geese on Wood Lake.