When I was growing up, life was predictable. I knew, for example, that if it was Monday, Ma would be doing the wash. Tuesday, she’d mend; Wednesday, iron, and so on. Meals, too, were predictable. Every Sunday we had pot roast; every Friday, Ma’s pizza. In regular order, we all knew we would be awakened by the smell of coffee brewing and toast popping up in the toaster. When we came home for lunch, we knew it would be ready and waiting for us. That predictability was comforting. It was reliable. It implied that things would never change. The poem that follows is an homage to those memories.
Everyone knows that
On Mondays, all the mothers
Will be busy doing the wash.
If it’s summertime, we kids will
Press our noses
Against the white sheets, and
Breathe in the fresh scent.
We’ll unpin the shirts and socks and unmentionables
And pile them into the laundry basket,
A chore we enjoy doing,
Even though we have to stop playing
And wash our hands with soap first.
When it’s windy, the clothes snap and flap
And dance on the clothes lines.
Up and down the block
All the back yards have the same
Look. Rope lines and poles and baskets and pins
In every one.
When I grow up
And live on this street,
I will do the wash.