I’m back from Ashland, the small town’s only laundry mat. I haven’t been to one of those since I was single. Now, older as things get ignored, I wait until I run out of socks and underwear. Oh, and tee shirts they’re always along side two or three more.
Two pillow cases in and only one with all folded, coming out. Sometimes, it’s both being carried out when I take the sheets, towels, a couple of dress shirts, and a few blue jeans, at the heel with frayed threads falling out. But today its tee shirts, socks, and underwear; one pillow case, the other carried inside out.
I have been in my robe all week, tee shirts and underwear underneath. Yesterday I was remembering a place with a washer and a dryer. Where it was my turn to do the laundry, a turn I would keep. I would turn on a blaring rock and roll radio station, sorting whites from colors. Sometimes I would inject a little shuffle and dance as I measured softener and twenty-mule team borax, half a cup or more singing out loud almost in a holler.
From gentle to hard-core, as the cycles went. Washing, drying, and folding. Picking up the kitchen in-between the squashing and swirling I would sweep the floor. With things sorted from white, colors and who knows what. I did two maybe even three loads. But, ah, back to my rented room in its ultimate bore.
On my inherited mother’s nicked kitchen table, on a lace doily gathering dust, sits a blue antique bottle and this summer’s dried flowers. I laid my car keys and emptied my pockets making them lighter of contents, putting them on her table.
Two straight-backed chairs next to yesterdays mail, the morning sun struck the table, breaking through the windows hazed of last night’s cigarette smoke, I heard a voice from my past, as my mother spoke, telling me to at least, “keep yourself clean, don’t live precariously, do your laundry, every week, listen to me, please!”
I’m back from Ashland, the small town’s only laundry mat. I haven’t been to one of those since I was single or with my mother as a child; since my divorce.