‘Ablutions’: a poem by Nadia Saward




I sat with her body until morning.
The blueblack cold mimicked
her blueblack skin.
I chafed her feet with lemon-scented lotion.
The corridors were quiet, a stillness only found early
on Sunday mornings, holy and soft.

The women will come, their white headscarves,
and we will wash her body.

Earlier, I left my place beside her,
the gravel bit the soles of my feet.
I tried to pray…
I closed my eyes and thought of water
and you God, and the sea.

A nearby pond, swarming with koi,
stared like her swollen eye.

I sat as they washed her. I couldn’t help.
They scrubbed her away with damp flannel towels
until she became a small, blessed, infinite thing.


Nadia Saward

About Nadia Saward

Nadia Saward has a BA in English Literature from King's College London and an MA in Creative Writing & Poetry from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is now working as an Editorial Assistant for science fiction and fantasy publisher Orbit.