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Libraries and Laundromats

She hums to her knitting at the table near the window

Suds circling and the hum of dryers

It’s too bright and the doors open and close letting in the cold

He wears a hat

The next one does not and opens a book

There are hats and hats and hats against the cold

Clinking of coins down the shoot

A woman is talking sternly to herself

If you want a house or a car, you got to work for it

She works figures in a notebook with a pen and yellow highlighter

Knitter knits and hums quietly

The laundry lady talks to another lady about the schedule and the snow

The hatless man turns another page reading silently

I wonder what’s going on at the library

People coming in out from the cold to read a book or a magazine

To use the computers and there are few places left where people mingle

Outside their strata

The tall woman looks at me with relief but I’m not part of her set

Whatever she thinks

I nod to her as I did to all

$15 dollars of laundry – the sheets and towels and jeans because they

Don’t wash easily in my bucket with the socks and shirts and underwear

There’s no good place to hang them, but I do anyway

The heavy things

They are only laundromat dry

I saved a dollar by spreading them out over furniture for an hour to finish

When I got home

What gratitude I felt to enter my home

There were presents in the mailbox and I opened them and began to cry

It’s all so hard sometimes

Where did my life go?

I look at the beautiful wooden picks for my guitar

And a book about living the music

I don’t make many plans any more

I do each day what needs to be done

Run the vacuum, make some food, sing some songs

Write down some thoughts and more thoughts

Wash my clothes in a bucket and hang them over the baseboard heater to dry

Maybe next week, go to the library and see who walks in out of the cold

Who looks at me in relief, and who passes by unseeing

And wonder what the figures on the paper mean

And did the knitter finish the knitting

And did the hatless man finish the book

And do we all circle around each other warily or looking for shelter

And do we ever find anything at all

In libraries and laundromats

In life or in death

Is there ever an answer to the question

What is the song of the suds and coins

Or the turning of pages

Or of entering a new day

And can we sing it beautiful this time

black and white clean housework launderette
Photo by Gratisography on

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