My Mother’s Washboard

image from fineartamerica.com photo by H. Armstrong Roberts
The old washboard

stands in a five dollar flea market tub
with three faded, scratched up tall coke bottles,
a rusted plaid patterned lunch pail,
a red plastic mesh bag filled with used beach toys,
a broken hobby horse some kid rode once
while yelling, Hi, Ho, Silver! Away!

Among this disregarded dusty junk,
the old washboard looks fragile
as if the wood surrounding the corrugated steel
might fracture should a woman grasp it
intending to use it to scrub stains
from familial laundry
like my mother did with her’s.

I remember my mother’s washboard
standing in her soaking bucket,
filled with 20 Mule Team Borax, Biz, and hot water,
which stood in the concrete laundry tubs
in the basement of the house.

I remember how her knuckles turned red,
the skin raw looking, as she scrubbed blood
from a blouse, pouring salt from a Morton’s
salt container onto the stain then scrubbing
up and down, up and down on the washboard,
then dunking the blouse twice
to see if the stain was gone.
Pour, scrub, scrub, dunk, dunk
pour, scrub, scrub, dunk, dunk
pour, scrub, scrub, dunk, dunk
The pattern, the rhythm, until the stain erased.

I have no soaking bucket,
no Twenty Mule Team Borax, no Biz,
no washboard
to get my stains out.
My bottle of Oxi Clean Stain Remover
pales in memory
of my mother’s washboard.

Orchestra of Children

untitled

An orchestra of children
Provides a symphony.

The violin of a two-year-old
Sings the plaintive cries,
“Daddy, Daddy!”

The lone flute of a three-year-old
Soars above the din,
A painful wail,
“Mommy, Mommy.”

Then the scratchy oboe
Of perhaps a four-year-old,
Keening for an aunt to be allowed to come
And take him to her home to stay.

Next all the whimpers,
Sobbing, moans
Squalls, and laments
Of trumpets, tubas,
Violas, bass and all the rest
Join the cacophonous clamor
Of such a discordant melody,
Harmonious to the hardened of heart
Who give ear to this orchestra,
Deserving of nothing but the pain
Contained within the symphony
The progeny play,
As less than they.

Modern and Clean

Let’s play house

Without the home.

 

It’s all arranged so prettily

No mess, no fuss,

No dusty hairball under the couch

None of the huff and puff

To blow a life down

 

Just learn to float on the surface

No need to swim in the deep

 

Keep it all to memes

Or 30-second bleeps

Nothing more needed

With all things clean

History

history image

Spun out from the centrifuge
Twisted in helix meaning
Strands entwined, twisted back
Stretching toward history within heritage
Search through the montage of time
Sift through pounds of truth and lies
For a few ounces of purity
Measured out within the mess
The now was the past
Where to walk
We travel back
On twisted helix roads
To the selves we were
So very long ago
And learn
The future braided
In the past
With the now
And made us whole

Power Rises

The Lady went dark,

feeling the decline.

The dawn trembled,

as the power of the mother raised

a sisterhood united.

 

While the capricious one

and his band of merry fools

turned tiny hands

to the magician’s tools

of distraction and deflection,

whipping their devout disciples

to a rabid, foamy hate,

ready to trample their different siblings.

 

Thus, the mother within the sisterhood

and a faction of the brotherhood

joins them to rise,

persisting in resisting

to protect a nation

for the next generation.

 

Trash at the Curb

Trash by the curb
Cardboard boxes nested
One within the other
Standing upright, resting
Against the edge of the smallest,
An old collage Walmart picture frame,
Matting included,
Old photos still within the frame,
A wedding, a first baby then a second,
Graduations and first cars,
Pictures telling a story of a family,
Colors faded by the sun
Having spent years by a window

Words Fail

 

Feast on a meal of bitter herbs
As you sit in the old rocking chair
Witnessing eyes like your own
Staring at you with murderous hate
You cannot sit where once you rocked warm softness

You stand, pace a bit, perch on a stool
And think of all those years ago,
Had you known, had you known–
Smeared the lamb’s blood on the lintel
And waited in prayer
For the cloud of contagion to pass

Faith becomes a sour cup
From which to drink,
And the writer’s ink dries to dust
Upon the page,
Swept away
By the winds of age.