Tuesday Poem: ‘The Tragedy of Laundry’ by James Valvis

The Tragedy of Laundry

The tragedy of laundry; I had no idea, says Tetsuro Shigematsu,
and I think of you forever humping hampers of whites or colors
down our hallways. Four kids with closets full of calamities,
a husband with stained shirts, your own beige brassieres
pairs of hammocks for hamsters. Always five-hundred socks
that must be matched, a mess that would sink Sherlock Holmes
into long bouts of cocaine and violent violin. What distance,
mother, there was between us. Down the long, sterile hall
you lurched, bending to reach into the machine’s mouth,
and when you straightened again you held a laundry ball
like a cloth child, shirt arms flung around your face,
collar pressed to your chest, as if this were your real family,
as if this wad of aseptic ghosts were all you needed to embrace.

First published at A Baker’s Dozen: 13 Extraordinary Things, third quarter 2012 issue.  
James Valvis is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2011). His writing can be found in Anderbo, Arts & Letters, Juked, LA Review, Rattle, River Styx, and storySouth. His poetry has been featured at Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry website. His fiction has twice been a Million Writers Notable Story. He lives near Seattle.

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4 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘The Tragedy of Laundry’ by James Valvis

  1. Violent violins, missing socks and laundry!

    I love it, James and Michelle! 🙂

  2. ajponder says:

    I so agree with Berit’s comment. Wonderful high drama for laundry. 🙂

  3. Never has the domestic been so elevated! Love it, Michelle & James!!

  4. gurglewords says:

    Hammocks for hamsters….and yes the violins. Wonderful 🙂 Many layers to this poem…was she a Martha do you think? Anyone who can wash hamsters’ hammocks must have a secret glow somewhere.

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