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My Mother Would Be A Laundress

My mother would be a laundress

& I her laundry sorted & soaking

awaiting the carefully measured soap

sometimes powder, sometimes liquid

suffused with hot or cold water, as necessity dictates.

I doubt when, for my own good, she agitates me

she will let me get only so smudged

before she agitates me

again & again she agitates me

thrown in with the other soiled garments.

I fear solubility as the soap is rinsed away

The spin cycle flattens me against the washer wall

As I spin, so spins the earth

How heavy I feel, as at the center of the earth

Weighted with water, the weight of the world, I feel her hand

Retrieve me & throw me into the basket.

My mother would be a laundress

& I her laundry in wicker basket

Plant fibres rudely but serviceably woven

filter the light as basket is balanced

precariously twixt her arm and hip.

Will I to the dryer be confined

or on a line be pinned

but yet flap gloriously in the summer wind?

'Tis no matter, I grow light

The way plants merely grow leaves

I grow light & regain my potential

I grow light & soon I am smothered

beneath the almost-but-never-quite

scorching iron which is guided by her clever hands.

Then folding, to enfold is to order

Folded & stacked I am & placed in a drawer

But often I am permitted to return to a closet

To be stored for the summer when no wrinkles be desired

And though enveloped humans seem by me

Although I might go to the ends of the earth on them

To her I must return

To undergo the agitator, the wringer, & the mangle

For I am part of her very nature

And when the mood comes and I would

wrap my sleeves around her throat

To strangle she who defines my limits

She who calls me back, the knowledge

that we need each other helps me endure another wash

copyright 1977 Allan Kornblum, Cinda Kornblum and Jim Hanson