Morning at the Laundromat

Is there a more challenging relationship than marriage? I certainly haven’t found one. Yes, parenting stretched me – lots, it still does. But marriage, marriage killed me. Which I kind of suspected from the beginning is what it was meant to do. After all, if the two are meant to become one flesh- it seems to me like there is a lot of left over flesh in that equation. One plus one does not make one – at least in my understanding of math. So, something has to give.

I just stumbled upon a G. K. Chesterton quote that sums it up perfectly, “Marriage is a duel to the death, which no man of honor should decline.” I was married ridiculously young (18) by today’s standards and it was a challenge. I’d never developed the character qualities necessary for a healthy relationship and having grown up on books, was rather expecting my poor husband to act out the combined roles of Prince Charming and God. Well, perhaps the PC role is redundant in that equation.

I read and reread and reread the order of marriage service in my husband’s little Anglican prayer book. How had I dared to believe I could hold up my end of that vow? I failed miserably, regularly. And I have to confess that my mother’s words, “I give it six months,” had much to do with my perseverance.

There were some long, dark and difficult years, and I don’t regret any of it . I have a category in my writing entitiled just that, The Difficult Years, But as you look back on your own life aren’t you grateful for what those years produced in you? And if you are too young to have that perspective then I offer you the hope that we find in Romans 8: 26 – 28, “…God causes all things to work together for good…”

Morning at the Laundromat 

Two machines side-by-side
and a pocketful of quarters!

Your clothes ,
(redolent of your sweet scent)
and mine,
rumpled, crumpled -
as if someone had shouted, “At ease."

Two ragged mountains –
white, dark 
hot, cold. 
The acrid sting of detergent and bleach 
is burning my eyes.

skin cells, sweat,  detritus,
 wed -  surrender to unity. 
No boundaries, no separate camps.
Freed, our clothes embrace,
arm in arm, side by side,
thigh to thigh, as one in the task.
My gypsy skirt flirts with your jeans.

The momentum of the spin entangles them.
I savage the Gordian Knot that they form.

But they enjoy the dryer even more.
Ballroom dancing now,
sinuous, sensuous, circular swirls,
a Viennese waltz
cut short -
by the buzzer.

I hang them in separate closets,
fold them just so in separate drawers.
They will not dance again ’til laundry day.

4 thoughts on “Morning at the Laundromat

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