Thursday, March 20, 2008

hanging by a thread

I kneel,
Delicately separating
That which needs to be thrown in from
That which needs to be hung out.
Imperceptibly, without warning-
Because there’s no reason
Except piles of dirty laundry and a washing machine with too many choices

A spiraling black vortex carries me backwards
To the time before consequences,
My child-self sound asleep in pink gingham.
I kneel,
Invisible beside my mother and watch
Her hands, younger even than my own
Deliberately placing my cotton panties into drawers she
Knows by heart.
She moves so slowly, stops, stares into the darkness-
Because there’s no reason
Except a lost childhood and a dresser full of broken dreams.
When all the work is done, my ghost joins her for a smoke on the porch
And we exhale hidden sorrows for the stars and the moon

I spiral up with the wisp and find myself next to a woman I have only
Seen in sepia,
Drowning her only daughter’s one dress in the washtub
Scrubbing violently on the washboard as the sun is setting over the hill.
She looks up vacantly-
Because there’s no reason
Except that it will be the same tomorrow and the day after that

She remembers the sea green room where bland food was served with
Those little white pills
And they let you smoke
With whomever you chose

And somebody else did your laundry

[June 2007]


Anonymous said...

Oh, that's sad - makes life seem dismal - endless caring for children. I know I've had those momemnts, in spite of how much I love them.

Rebecca said...

What I love about this is the universality of the feeling through the generations. Not to mention the near complete sabotage of the self. I think every woman has felt her life reduced to putting away the laundry, and every child has witnessed it, and perhaps subconsciously understood their complicity.

Or maybe I am overly blue today.

reliv4life said...

Wow! I could really identify with this, unfortunately... I have to look at the people I am doing it for instead of just the chores, or I am easily overwhelmed with the fact that it is tedious and all has to be done again tomorrow...

Jim Thomsen said...

I'll be honest ... I'm not sure I know what this poem is about, but I know striking and evocative imagery when I see it. Very piercing, very visceral prose.

Maria said...

Yeah...exactly what Rebecca said...EXACTLY.

suesun said...

Yeah, I agree.... exactly what Rebecca said!

All - And yes, life is sometimes sad and blue and the Self seems about to disintegrate....I'm glad to have shared this poem with you, and that it resonates in your lives as well.....

Jim-it's about laundry. Really. :-) Something I'm not sure you can really "get" unless you're a woman with children. I really appreciate your kind and generous words....

BBC said...

What's on my book shelf? Heavy stuff, Einstein and things like that. And do it yourself books.

billy pilgrim said...

the last bit has me picturing r p mcmurphy winning everybody's cigarettes and nurse ratched putting an end to the game.

b carstenium said...

to me, this is a poem of the underbelly of motherhood... the underbelly that surely rises to be recognized and honored every now and then. it is the exhale so complete that one wonders if the next breath is ever to come... and then, like the sun in the east or the birds at spring, we all breath our next breath.