Deep Thoughts on Mundane Chores

I’m working on some new posts.  Meanwhile, enjoy:

SORTING LAUNDRY

Folding clothes,
I think of folding you
into my life.

Our king sized sheets
like table cloths
for the banquets of giants,

pillow cases, despite so many
washings seams still
holding our dreams.

Towels patterned orange and green,
flowered pink and lavender,
gaudy, bought on sale,

reserved, we said, for the beach,
refusing, even after years,
to bleach into respectability.

So many shirts and skirts and pants
recycling week after week, head over heels
recapitulating themselves.

All those wrinkles
to be smoothed, or else
ignored, they’re in style.

Myriad uncoupled socks
which went paired into the foam
like those creatures in the ark.

And what’s shrunk
is tough to discard
even for Goodwill.

In pockets, surprises:
forgotten matches,
lost screws clinking on enamel;

paper clips, whatever they held
between shiny jaws, now
dissolved or clogging the drain;

well washed dollars, legal tender
for all debts public and private,
intact despite agitation;

and, gleaming in the maelstrom,
one bright dime,
broken necklace of good gold

you brought from Kuwait,
the strangely tailored shirt
left by a former lover…

If you were to leave me,
if I were to fold
only my own clothes,

the convexes and concaves
of my blouses, panties, stockings, bras
turned upon themselves,

a mountain of unsorted wash
could not fill
the empty side of the bed.

copyright 1988 by Elisavietta Ritchie

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5 responses to “Deep Thoughts on Mundane Chores

  1. So I thought YOU wrote this until I got to the part about the former lover in Kuwait…. 😀

    Good poem!

  2. I have to disagree. That was the oddest, and most painful poem I have ever read. I am going to have to score that one even below my poem from 2nd grade. I will just refer to it as “the bay poem”. I am sure you remember.

  3. @ Lydia- Not mine, no former lovers stashed across the Middle East… but I still like it!

    @ Abbey- no way does this even compare to the “bay” poem!

    I HATE laundry, and I like the idea that all of the clothes to fold can remind me of memories and people I love. If I were all alone, I would have less laundry to do (fewer chores of many kinds, in fact!), but less to be thankful for. It’s a good reminder!

  4. Lindsey, I love this poem. Especially as I settle into my “summer housewife” role.

  5. it does compare to “the bay poem”… 🙂 Apples to apples my friend! Any poem that references Kuwait, and uses the word “recapitulating” is just plain odd.
    Ms Ritchie should contact me, I’ll give her some pointers…lol

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