Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 2: Laundry


Death and taxes are all:
our sure things,
all we can count on.
But in an unremarked place,
closeted in a corner of the house,
the piles never stop:
the hamper teems,
reds and greens and blues
rise over the top,
stale sweat of two sons
lifting into the air.
Load after load,
the dark and the light,
the hot and the cold.
Wash, dry, fold,
And that magical moment
the bottom of the hamper
reveals itself,
every article folded,
put away, hidden,
we celebrate—
till the next first lone sock
drops in,
then another,
and the piles grow again.


Thoreau wrote in Walden that "[t]he mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."  That desperation stems not from timeline kinds of events but from the mundane, the slow drips in our lives that never stop, no matter how much we try to fix our faucets.  It may be something different for everyone: a work routine, home tasks, constant blood testing, or anything else.  At times we find solace in routine, but at other times we just wish it would stop, if only for a day.

This poem plays in that space.  A choice I made here was to keep it in one connected piece rather than breaking it into stanzas.  Given time the poem-a-day task does not afford, I may choose differently and restructure it, but I thought this fit well with the notion of a constant task.  I chose laundry, but metaphorically speaking the poem could refer to just about anything, any piece of life that builds and continues ad infinitum, no matter how much effort we put into it.  I built some subtle (or so I intended it to be!) repetition to reinforce further that theme.


  1. Death, taxes, and laundry 😊. You prove poems aren't just about death and love. There are so many great images-hamper teems, stale sweat of sons, and the lone sock. The word unremarked bothers me...

  2. Thank you Sue! I agree on "unremarked," something that will certainly slip out of the revised version. I think death and love have yielded some great poetry, and reams of other poetry too. I like finding territory less fully explored.

  3. "stale sweat of two sons" glorious