At the Scrub Board

The clouds woke up early this morning, talking
to each other, first a patter, then a long cackling
boom. They washed us and swished us, everything
was out of focus. 11 a.m., Sunday morning.

Might as well go to the laundrymat, everyone
will be in church. But when I get there, every
machine is spinning. All the other odd-not-even
ones had the same idea. There are blue dragons
guarding the door of a grey SUV. A single
white woman slamming the dryer doors like gears
between shifts. Three mexicanos who’d ironed
their denim shirts. A family, young Asian woman,
three-year-old girl, older white man, crimped
and trembling. A young skinny white guy, tattoo
shadow hiding in the nape of his boney neck.

He stands outside smoking a cigarette, furiously,
he’s talking to one of the latinos, their hands
squared and angled, pointing, some information
exchanged. With me too, I guess, as I watch.

Not much like the Sunday school cut-felt stories
I saw pressed onto the flannel easel. The camel,
the rich man, the eye of the needle, the teacher
a banker who bribed us to come and listen,
that thrilling ride after church in his personal plane.

Over my house, Mama waving under, small, smaller,
up over the grey-green trees, the hump-backed
little hills, the river threading between, the little town,
the county spread out and waiting to be folded up
and put in his pocket, the banker said he’d keep it safe.

I see the eye of the future looking back my way.
The rain pours down, we keep putting quarters
into the thunder-rolling machines that don’t
belong to us. Tomorrow’s Monday, and how we
get there, me and my neighbors who do
our own washing, that’s for us to figure out.

***

Minnie Bruce Pratt is a white anti-racist, anti-imperialist activist, born in 1946, in Selma, Alabama. Her poetry as a lesbian mother, Crime Against Nature, was chosen for the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets, and recently re-issued by Sinister Wisdom/A Midsummer’s Night Press. Her most recent book is Inside the Money Machine, described by one reviewer as “anti-capitalist poetics in action.” She does organizing with the International Action Center, teaches at Syracuse University, and can be reached at www.mbpratt.org

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