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.

Washerwoman
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
Manageable
A bit of elbow grease
And the dirt would soon be gone

But looking at it here
Bare
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
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


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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
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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.
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