Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ironing Their Clothes by Julia Alvarez

With a hot glide up, then downm, his shirts,
I ironed out my father's back, cramped
and worried with work. I stroked the yoke,
the breast pocket, collar and cuffs,
until the rumped heap relaxed into the shape
of my father's broad chest, the shoulders shrugged off
the world, the collasped arms spread for a hug.
And if there'd been a feace above teh buttondown neck,
I wold have pressed the forehead out, I would
have made a boy again out ofthat tired man!

If I clung to her skirt as she sorted the wash
or put out a line, my mother frowned,
a crease down each side of her mouth.
this is no time for love! But here
I could linger over her wrinked bedjacket,
with the hot tip. Here i caressed complications
of darts, scallops, ties pleats which made
her outfits test of the patience of my passion.
Here I could lay my dreaming iron on her lap...

The smell of baked cotton rose from the board
and blew with a breeze out of the window
to the family wardreope drying on the clothesline,
all needing a touch of my iron. Here I could tickle
the underamrs of my big sister's petticoat
or secretly pat the backside of her pajams.
For she too would have warned me not to muss
her fresh blouses, starched jumpers, amd smocks,
all that my careful hand had ironed out,
forced to express my excess love on cloth.

Julia Alvarez was born in 1950.
She arived to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1960 when she was 10 years old.
She claims she discoverd her talent from moving to the United States.

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