The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon?
— Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.
- The Shampoo, Elizabeth Bishop
There’s a certain look Shaw gets when she’s tending your wounds. She looks over your injuries the way a master player looks at a chessboard: intent, clinical, expert.
“You’re terrible at taking care of yourself,” she says, dabbing the healing flesh of your shoulder with a prep pad. Blots of dull blood blossom onto the pad—a painting in reverse—and the alcohol stings where it seeps into the wound.
“Lucky I have you then.”
She shoots you her stony look. Then her brow twitches, and she leans in close to you, taking a long, deep sniff.
“Root, you stink. And your hair is filthy.”
“I love it when you talk dirty to me.”
“I’m serious. When’s the last time you washed yourself?”
“A few days ago. Kind of hard when you can’t lift your arms over your head.” You look meaningfully over at the sling hanging from the doorknob.
Shaw rolls her eyes and takes a deep breath.
“Come on, then,” she says, tossing the pad into the wastebasket and grabbing you by the hand. “Let’s get you clean.”