Thursday, May 15, 2008


[A poem with something symbolic for Totally Optional Prompts this week.]


After working in the yard for hours she
stores her worn leather gloves in the garage,
and leaves the muddy shoes by the door.
She takes her work jacket to the closet
and hangs it on a padded hanger before
putting the paint-stained jeans and tired
sweatshirt into the laundry basket.

She cleans the dirt from beneath her nails
and sets up the ironing board, ready
to press the wrinkles out of some shirts.
First the collar, then the sleeves, then
the rest; as she moves the iron back and forth
she surveys her domain, pleased at seeing
no dust, no clutter. Picked up and put away,
she knows where everything is.

One shirt finished, she hangs it on a padded
hanger and moves to the next shirt. Collar
and cuffs first, she presses away the imperfections,
controlling the outcome. Her mind wanders
back to her first real job at the lunch counter
and soda fountain. At twelve she didn't control much
but she worked hard anyway and saved her pennies.

Back then she hung her uniform on a wire hanger
in the shared closet. There was plenty of room
for clothes, since no one had many. She dreamed
of padded hangers all lined up in the closet full of clothes,
as she did her homework and counted Depression-Era tips.

Years later wire hangers held her nurse's uniform
including the freshly-starched material waiting to be
folded into the shape unique to her school.
She worked extra shifts for extra cash to support
her girl and boy, living with their grandmother.
Tired enough to sleep through a tornado, she
was frugal and kept planning.

The third cotton shirt finished, she picks up another
padded hanger and takes all three to the closet
where they blend in with all the others,
lined up clean and soft, cushioning the shoulders
of her dresses and jackets and coats,
proof that she was finally somebody.


Stan Ski said...

And what thanks did she ever get??
Although mere gratitude is not quite appropriate.

texasblu said...

Funny the things we latch onto to symbolize our "successes". Excellent.

sister AE said...

Hi, Stan. I don't see it as thankless. But I don't think everyone appreciates the padded hangers the way she does.

Hello, texasblu. thanks.

gautami tripathy said...

I do so many mathematical proofs each day. Well, in matter of life, it is different!

tunneled view

sister AE said...

Hi, Gautami. Yes, proofs are more slippery in real life.

Daryl James said...

Wonderful. True success is thusly defined, according to what we hold inside as individual. Thanks.

sister AE said...

Thanks, Daryl. Glad you found this - and got it.