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Laundry, St. Lucia.

Laundry, St. Lucia

 A woman standing in a river
 soaps and kneads her children's clothes,
 then lets the current fill them.
 "When peace like a river attends my way,"
 she sings. Outside her gate, on the road
 washed clean by overnight rain, colors
 bright as the markings on reef fish
 begin to appear: shirts and pants
 and dresses drying along the pavement's edge
 as her own did when she was a child.
 Stretching them to size and picking off
 waterborne seeds, she remembers
 her son and daughter making angels
 in sand, jumping up and watching a wave
 take them streaming back into the sea.
 The clothes are saying, Hold me.
 What would I think, she wonders, if
 I looked down from the Windward Airlines flight
 coming in over the mountain now
 and saw these--a school bus accident?
 She remembers a story her mother told
 in which laundry drying comes to life,
 dancing and singing and playing tag.
 When a communion dress tripped up by denims
 falls into a mud puddle, the others
 scrub her with magic soapweed from the river,
 then they all lie down once again.
 Such colors in the sun on St. Lucia--
 the whole day changes into them.

Thomas Reiter is a poet whose most recent book of poetry, Powers and Boundaries, was published in 2004 by Louisiana State University Press. In 2009, LSU will bring out his next collection, Catchment. He is a recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Daily News Poetry Prize from The Caribbean Writer, as well as poetry fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has traveled widely in the Caribbean and written extensively about the culture, history, and folklore of the islands.
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Author:Reiter, Thomas
Publication:Journal of Caribbean Literatures
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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