Irish Woman Washing Poem

Irish Woman Washing Poem

Before the mirror of a cement toilet in a trailer park at Doolin
She undresses to the waist, plugs the sink, fills it from alternate taps.
She splashes water under her arms, lathers soap between her palms.
I watch her back arc as she bends, her breasts fall, convex—
Two clouds watching from the sky.
The backs of her legs tense when a stream of cold water trickles down her belly.
She glances up, pulls a washcloth between her legs, rubs her crotch;
Finished, she checks her face for blemishes.
This is the way women have washed for centuries.
This is the way, in a Degas pastel—
Light catching on the curve of a back,
A rainbow lying in a pool at the feet
The toe dried carefully—the hair tied in a knot—
Combed from the roots.
All of us lined up—cow-eyed, sleepy, hungry at the sink—
Mild, fiery girls, not yet knowing that in a moment the world will,  change—
In the cold early morning air, half an hour, alone.

Laima Sruoginis
first published in The Beloit Poetry Journal, vol. 47, no. 3, Spring 1997

Irish Woman Washing Poem

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