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Sharon Kennedy-Nolle

Consolidated Laundries

“Seldon didn’t send the bar towels he promised; how am I supposed to cover that?… Brooklyn, Jesus, sent the wrong size tablecloths. I’m so aggravated! It’s all goddamn aggravation.” 

Every night, the same rant: life at the Laundry 
the meal yelled through,
the rest of us bowed heads to our plates, taking it; 
forking down food quick, making it 
the bad family joke, 

soon I started omitting your cutlery
whenever I set the table.  
After your cuff links, pipe, Old Spice, whatever
else I might touch, in dusting, 
I had to wash my seven-year-old hands raw 
turning over and over the sudsless soap.
Sometimes Mom would ask why,
complain about my uneven cleaning.

Once stuck on a Saturday in the Lindenhurst depot,
dense smell of dirty laundry, hanging radium heavy,
200-pound bags dumped from delivery trucks,
piled up to the garage ceiling, high as a hangar,
I scrubbed the bathroom, 
starting with the sink, old filth 
so beard-gray thick, I had to cut it 
with a putty knife, 
fairy-dusting Comet over everything

I went up the teal-tiled walls, 
grimed with piss and spit and smeary shit,
annoying you, as I kept asking for more and more towels
working myself into a lather
until I got to the toilet Mom told me not to touch, 
but I scoured on, real trooper
staining my pale saffron dress, 
its sagging sash dripping from the bucket,
its eyelet hem already sullied 

with what I did, 
with what you did.

You said nothing, either way. 

Jim Zola 675DC4F9-2C15-4B6C-B6DA-57E28D416349.jpeg
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