By Mark Halliday
(posted Wednesday, July 9)
To hear the poet read "Frankfort Laundromat," click
Plastic chair, my eyes closed, my father walked in,
he had his bag of laundry. My laundry was in a machine
already, thirty-eight years prior to my death. Like me
my father was alive, he was eighty-one. We were both
sunburned and tired, this was after hours on the beach,
after the picnic, after when the Honda got stuck in sand,
this was after, then came the laundry; my father said
"Did you get burned much?" I said "Not too bad" and
he put his clothes in a machine. Small box of Tide.
My eyes closed over The Burden of the Past by W. J. Bate
and my eyes opened, hot room smell of soap and hot fabric,
and my father's shirt was dark pink, like a heart.
But my eyes closed, after the hours in the sun and
buying the stuff for sandwiches for everybody and
making sure Nick and the girls didn't really hurt the seagulls
and after Asa felt sick at lunch and after the humid tennis
so my eyes closed. Then opened apparently for more living,
I put my laundry in a dryer and my father was reading
The New Republic--concentrating, with his reading glasses,
and caring about the truth, despite all the sun and
all the sandwiches and tennis and driving, and I loved
him reading there in his dark pink shirt. But my head was
gravitational to the floor, my chin to my neck, I tried
The Burden of the Past and closed my eyes thirty-eight years
before my death unless it comes sooner, and a fly shifted
from People magazine to my father's shirt to a Certs wrapper
and the fly was the word "and." Then my clothes were dry
and awfully hot and I held my face to a hot dry towel.
I wanted to live--to live enough; but to live all day--
the sunburn and the gravitation--but my father was still
reading. Therefore with the normal courage of
any son or any daughter I folded my laundry and carried it
out to the Honda for more living, as my father went on
reading for truth in his shirt dark pink like a heart.
Mark Halliday's fifth book of poems isKeep This Forever. He teaches at Ohio University.