Thursday, August 31, 2006
  Dirty Laundry
A poem inspired by some recent conversations on the Islamic Writers Alliance list about airing dirty laundry, and the pressures to and not to talk about problems within the Muslim community.

By Pamela K. Taylor

To find the laundry
You have to enter the house

At first glance
It seems easy
A couple simple phrases
And the door swings open
No code
No secret signs
No special handshake
Or distinctive uniform
You don’t even have to say
The passwords
In Arabic
You can do it in your native tongue
If you can’t manage
The mimicry
Of foreign syllables

But once you get past the door
You discover
There are lots of rooms
And lots of doors
Most with locks
And peepholes
And secret keys
That sometimes aren’t words at all
But the color of your skin
Or the clothes you’re wearing
And the food you eat
Or who you’re married to
Or which imam you follow

Eventually you’ll find a room
Where you fit in
Or at least
Where they’ll let you in

The laundry’s in the corner
On the other side of the couch
Behind the coffee table
Tucked behind the curtain

You only know it’s there
Because of the stench

When you head in its direction
Be prepared for the onslaught
First a coy attempt at distraction
Then a remonstration about gossip
Next, instruction on priorities
Then a moan over exposure
Then a gasp of disbelief
And as you head for the pile
A wail of despairing, agonized honor
A flinging, plea-filled leap at your ankles
A gnashing, hate-filled lunge at your throat

If you make it past the couch
You’re scot-free
No one dares follow you there

And for good reason

You pull aside the curtain
To see the pile is wider
And taller
And deeper
Than it seemed
When viewed in the cracks
Between chair and couch
Through the gauzy veil of curtain
It had looked innocuous
A bit of elbow grease
And the dirt would soon be gone

But looking at it here
Backlit by sun
The pile seems a mammoth
Wooly indeed
Tentacles of mouldery moss
Spout from shreds of decomposing cloth
RotAnd not the dry sort
Has set it
Black fungi splotches
Dapple polka dot patterns across a sleeve
Oil smears slickly on a pant leg
The lower layers are so compressed
So old and decaying
You can’t tell where one festering layer ends
And the next begins

Can it ever come clean?

You heave the pile into your arms
And try to carry it outside
Air it out
Hang it out to dry
Let fresh air and sunlight
Work magic

But the people in your room
And the next room over
And the room after that
Grab at the pile in your arms
Flinging a trouser
Tossing a blouse
back to the corner
Hide it!
Hide it!

If you wait long enough,
It will rot completely away
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

My Photo
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

Recent Posts

October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
July 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
July 2013