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

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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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Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."

a

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