Because I Sort of Knew Him

This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series The Laundry Poems


I took the lift even though I wasn’t
really hitching, and the walk was four miles
only, and the bags I carried were not heavy…

but I accepted when he pulled over
to the corner where I was waiting
for a light to change because I sort of knew

him, had exchanged nods and light conversation
at the bar where I would go some evenings
to sip a cup of coffee slowly, letting

echoes of a day of au pair service, echoes
of children’s squeals and tribulations
seep out of my mind, surround myself

with other adults quietly unwinding themselves
in the dimmer light, transitioning from day-
work to head-home-at-night identities.

I knew where he was going, and when he’d
seen my baggage, he’d assumed (correctly)
I was headed for St. Vincent’s goodwill thrift

to drop off a sack of clothing being donated
by the parents of my charges. And he, whose name
I never really knew exactly, was going there

to do his version of the laundry: every
weekend, he’d go to the rack of heavy cotton
shirts from uniforms, brown and gray and olive

green, small medium large XL 2X, dark blue
and khaki, short-sleeved shirts with buttons,
each emblazoned with someone’s first name.

Each week he’d drop off seven shirts in
the donation bin, carefully select a crisply
ironed long-sleeved white (from which I surmised

he either went on a date on Saturday night,
or church on Sunday morning); one plain solid
color t-shirt for daytime-wear on Saturday;

and five work-shirts, each with a different
identity stitched on directly over the heart.

Written in response to Dave Bonta’s “Une Semaine de Bonté” and Luisa A. Igloria’s “Refurbished.”

Series NavigationWhat’s In a Name →

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