Poem 13: 6/18/01

dirty laundry
lines in italics are from Al Green's "Let's Stay Together"

he didn't want to go to bed at 10
he put up a fuss and dramatics that
turned our heads
turned sour
so fast
and I
am so in love with you
was pulling him away from his father
who had hold of his t shirt collar
whatever you want to do
I carried my twelve year old to the kitchen
and sat on the floor with him
hanging on to him
imploring him to calm down
give up the fight
to go to bed
give it a rest
a simple sorry and sleep
is all right with me
I hoped for the same from his father
who glowered on the sofa
and ignored the kid's penitence
from his scotch laden anger
let me be the one
our son ran up the steps
I told his dad what I thought
he should have done
and the glass hit the wall
you come running to
and the shards of an evening covered three rooms
the kids came roaring down the steps
our daughter swearing and raging
ready to fight to keep us together
I'll never be untrue
I held her back
and she swung and struggled and swore and
I bloodied her lip in the struggle
let's stay together
and he went out the door
our son wailed it was his fault
our daughter ran through the glass
to look at her bloody lip
loving you whether
cursing me
cursing us
I swept the floor
bade the kids to go to bed
tried to calm my son
times are good or bad
who still believes it's all his fault
apologized to my daughter
who can't hear but screams curses
happy or sad

and I sweep
and sweep
and the glass is everywhere
why do people break up
and I sweep some more
my husband comes home
he offers to sweep
and I tell him to save his breath
I don't want his help
then turn around and make up
and I realize I've made a mistake
this I just can't conceive
I  brush up what I've found into the dust pan
and go up to say good night to the kids
you'd never be untrue
and tell their dad he'll need to vacuum tomorrow
would you baby
and get no response
'cause being around you is all I need
so I go back downstairs to put in a load of wash
and push my heart back down my throat
into my chest
the whir and rushing water sounds of the washer
the ordered piles of clothes
the dirty crumbling cement floor
let's stay together
are so familiar and kind
whether times are good or bad
happy or sad

© 10/21/00 Jo Jensen

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