Hanging Out the Wash
All day, I hung the wash out, coat open, hat off,
no mittens. It seemed like spring as I splashed
the wet clothes on the line like paints. I painted you
a picture of our lives, our bodies, our arms and legs
flapping, useless and empty of each other.
You say I shouldn't hang the wash
out, but I hang my sorrows in the sun
to thaw. It's so much warmer than yesterday
and feels like spring: thirty-five degrees but falling.
Yesterday was 20 below. I bend over coughing
and cannot stop. The cough sinks a taproot in my lungs
You say I shouldn't hang the wash out; want me
perhaps, to scrub it on a washboard in the basement.
Coughing and wheezing, I hang out your private shorts
all in a row. If you can say it, I can tell it.
I read that asthma is another way of crying, another way
of screaming. You say I'm allergic to you
and I am.
I take the frozen laundry from the line: stiff bras
and panties, solid jeans
and lie splintered on the snow.
My fingers crack
and fall off too.
They are my ten tongues,
punished for their honesty.
061101b, original 1981 or earlier (find info)
From the Chapbook, Broken Mirrors