Monday, July 18, 2011



The wallpaper at the laundromat
is printed with the tropics: palms,
canoes, teal green sea. Farther

back, rickety bungalows where
the locals live, the ocean there
for them so generously it makes

us visitors stare and sigh. Tahiti
or Florida, again and again around
the room. Below, the white machines

groan and gargle. Peach walls,
peach and green linoleum creased
like skin when tight clothes are

taken off, the body marked where
it meets strap and snap and seam.
Flesh remembers. Clothes forget

when we wash them. The laundromat
lets us handle our underthings together
without shame. It’s a matter of context.

The clothes are not touching us
in the intimate way that they do
usually. On the back wall, a poster,

Telluride Gallery printed large
at the top, and under that, a mountain,
and under that, another mountain,

and then a pond. Under the water,
rocks, painted with specificity,
each perfectly visible if you look.


  1. As a denizen of the local coin laundry (my washer has been broken for a while now) I have to say that mine resembles less a tropical island than the bowels of a navy ship.

    I loved the part about the marks left on skin but that the clothes forget.

  2. "It is in contemplation of the underthings, the underwear lurking just below the clothing of existence,... The study of this substratum, the foundation garment underlying reality,"

    dr howl

    when i lived in the french quarter, there was a laundromat directly across the street, and an infamous bar next door

    laundromats vary, but there is something communal about them, the necessary mostly poor share

  3. I wish they'd paint our local laundrettes like that....

  4. I don't miss doing laundry in laundromats! I love this poem, and the image that goes with it.

  5. I enjoyed this, Hannah. Great title, with so much meaning. And some wonderful lines. All around, a excellent poem.

    The time our washer broke I had to search out a laundromat (it wasn't easy to find one). Walls and walls of machines and people putting in their coins and then leaving their stuff, which an attendant would remove when the wash was done and put in a dryer. (I always stayed with my clothes.) And certainly no wallpaper such as you describe, though the heat of the machines created a tropical feeling.

  6. You make the mundane poetic. Love this.

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  8. the body marked where
    it meets strap and snap and seam.
    Flesh remembers.

    Hannah, I tried once, while an undergraduate, to capture my local coin laundromat in a poem. The washing machine sounded like sex.

    There's something sensual about laundering our intimates in a public sphere, how you've captured it here.


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