Aubrey Atwater & Elwood Donnelly

Atwater-Donnelly

 

 

 

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JULY-OCTOBER 1999
LAUNDRY

Hi folks! Aubrey here this time. Elwood didn't end up writing a piece for this newsletter so I got the spot instead!

I thought I'd share one of the poems from my new book, "Don't Bother the Phoebe." The poem is about empty nest syndrome. It is a composite portrait of both my step-sons, Noah and Uriah, who, when they were young enough to be dragged to coffeehouses around New England, played with us for about five years.

Laundry
I have folded a generation of clothing
for today is your twentieth birthday
and I am looking at old photographs
Here you are on the ferry
with your light blue, oversized t-shirt
I remember it's slow thinning over years through washing
How you loved that shirt and then one day
you put a green garbage bag in the kitchen and said,
"These are clothes you can give away"
I remember, also, the gradual growing of the trousers
They were so little at first, easy to wash
Holding them fresh out of the laundry
I would snap the legs to remove creases
Then when the pants got bigger and exceeded my own
I was the tiniest person in the basket
How many times
I have stood at those machines,
folded your briefs three ways
and wondered how you were doing
in fourth grade, in seventh grade,
in high school
The years chronicle themselves
by clothing and haircuts
Here you shaved one side of your head
and for months wore a shirt
that said WHATEVER
Now, only weeks ago,
you have moved out
soon to buy your own garments,
perhaps trade with friends
And when you visit to use the machines
you will carry your soiled laundry
packed tight into the black hamper
and pass over my threshold
in stranger's clothing
a t-shirt I don't know,
unacquainted frayed pants,
and mismatched socks I never bought.

©1999 Aubrey Atwater

 


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