Chinese Clothes

I woke up in a hard bed—not mine.
It was a mouse that startled me out of a dream
that I was home in my mother’s laundry room,
listening to the swish of water in the machine.

I turned to see my lover sloshing clothes
in a small red soapy bucket. 
Before I could speak, the paperboy howled
through the window: morning paper, morning paper,
not in my language. I wondered
how many miles stretch between here and home.

He rolled his eyes toward the window.
Every day, he said, using a Chinese phrase
I’d only learned a week before.
He carried the bucket with scuttle steps
to the plastic clothesline that was half outdoors and half in.

I watched him hang white T-shirts and jeans
with creaky clothespins. There was no breeze
to dry them or chase the smoke from my cigarette.

Brenna Dugan

2 Responses to “Chinese Clothes”

  1. 1 Charles Sapp April 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Lovely poem! I can relate as I live in Beijing, the descriptive nature of doing laundry. Excellent work.

  2. 2 Brenna April 29, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Thank you very much 🙂

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The Faerie Queene

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April 2008

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