A Tale of Two Laundry: A Poem

Let’s take a moment, and tell you a tale of a girl
who has lived and grown up on either sides of this world.
She hails from the States,
where doing laundry is a piece of cake.
She buys large tubs of Persil and Tide,
never worries that colors will fade and hide.
The smooth gel dissipates and flees,
and the clothes smell like heavenly Spring Breeze.

Every two days with her family of four,
a new load goes in and it’s not a chore.
She sorts the colors from the whites,
then pops them in her Kenmore Delight.
She turns the cycle to scour and scrub,
and leaves the Kenmore to do its job.
In 45 minutes her clothes are gleaming,
wrung dry, but still wet and steaming.

She feigns a moan as she leans down to take the wet pile
and plops them into the other Kenmore beside-her.
Her pressed hardwood floors are cozy under her feet,
while she sniffs a whiff of the laundry softener sheet.
With a turn of a knob, the heat is set.
She may leave her house without a fret.

In an hour or so, it’s time to do some manual labor,
but she has a better idea: and calls in a favor.
“Hey kids! You broke my wine glasses,” she scolds.
“As repayment, it’s time for you to fold.”
Because her TV program is on, she casts an eye to her tweens,
as they bemoan the hard work to fold and clean.
She rolls her eyes and her hands begin to work,
as her kids complain of their toils they must shirk.

Across the wide ocean, another tale unfolds.
Of the same young mother, and it is her story that is told.
She lives on a rock, in the middle of the ocean;
it was her husband’s idea to live here – his notion.
She is surrounded by God’s beauty and might,
and she has not a care in the world – or so she delights.
Except that she has the same family of four,
and this time the high heat makes their clothes smell more.

So she does laundry every two days
except on this rock, this little job seems like a maze.
She climbs her stone steps to the room with the old machine
that cracks, crinkles, and bubbles up when she must clean.
She sorts through the colors of school uniforms and swimsuits,
then she smiles to herself and thinks, “at least it’s not a business suit.”
In go the colors with the cheap local soap,
The powder stings her hands and she mopes.
But she knows that the soap isn’t the worst –
Oh no! The following few hours are the beginning of her curse.

After an hour or two, the machine has stopped its dizzy spin,
and it will be my turn to work, she thinks to her chagrin.
She pulls out the jumbled mess,
unraveling the twisted knot, it is such a stress.
She drags the wet laundry to the top terrace,
where the sun beating down is relentless.
On the Rock there are no need for dryers;
the sun does the trick better than any fryer.
Clothespins shoved in her mouth, her eyes squint in the sun,
her expert fingers hang the clothes – this is no fun!
Oh how her toes long for the cool, hardwood floor!
Instead blisters bead and form as she swore.
She manages to tie the laundry quite loose
and hang down as they form a little noose.
She leaves them to drip-dry on the sweltering stones,
and grabs a lemonade and fans herself as she moans.
“Oh the horror of living on this little rock!”
She flutters her lids and there’s azure blue. Her eyes are in shock.

How can I complain in God’s own land?
I look down at my arms, legs – strong and tanned.
I drift off to sleep as the soft wind blows,
and awaken shortly because this I know:
It’s time to lift the iron to my sun-stiffed clothes.

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Claudia Hanna

About Claudia Hanna

Born a typical Type A stress-basket, Claudia followed all the rules until she spent her final college summer internship working at an import-export firm in Cyprus, which she dutifully quit after a couple of weeks and took up a job as a barmaid at a kick-ass bar in a yacht harbor. It was during that fateful summer (more years ago than she likes to admit) she met her future husband. A dozen years and a couple kids later, the dimpled Adonis convinced Claudia to quit her grueling corporate America finance job and head for the Med. Ah hell, who was she kidding? With fanciful thoughts of being bohemian and breastfeeding naked on the beach, the diaper bags were already packed.

After realizing her two options for a social life on the rock were either drunk tourists and retired expats (looking for a quick lay, endless sunshine, and cheap beer) OR the local Cypriot community (with their shiny cars dotting dusty dirt roads and perfectly manicured brows), Claudia followed the eyebrows and stilettos. And she has never looked back. With their warm culture and pop-in-anytime policy, Claudia finally relaxed and learned to live like an island girl.

If she's not stepping over lizards and tarantulas in her home, scuba diving with sea turtles, or teaching drama to kids, Claudia loves catching up with friends over multiple glasses of large, chilled wine on her balcony. She spends her days writing her blog www.livelikeagoddess.com and broadcasting her radio show "The Morning Show with Claudia."

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14 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Laundry: A Poem

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this one ! Hanging out clothes is an art, especially for someone who is ocd…….all the linens together, undies together, etc., fold them as you take them down or they will wrinkle…and God forbid you need to do laundry on a rainy day!

    • I know! I got tired of rhyming, else I would have gotten into the rainy day syndrome. In Cyprus in the winter, it can take up to 3 days for clothes to dry! Then we end up strewing the clothes all over our living room, on couches/sofas/chairs and radiators!

    • I know! I got tired of rhyming, else I would have gotten into the rainy day syndrome. In Cyprus in the winter, it can take up to 3 days for clothes to dry! Then we end up strewing the clothes all over our living room, on couches/sofas/chairs and radiators!

    • Thanks, Judyann. I laugh at my friends (to their face) who complain about doing laundry in the US. I’m like, really? If I could just *not* have to iron socks so they aren’t board-stiff, I’d be happy again. Sigh…

  2. The first year we got to Grenada (in December) the rainy season was still going strong. Here it doesn’t rain all day but rather off and on – short, torrential downpours interspersed with brilliant sunshine – BUT – if you are trying to dry laundry, you need to be vigilant AND available – almost at a moments notice to get the laundry in after it’s been in the sun long enough to be completely dry and before the next cloudburst storms through. The record was the same laundry, on the line for 12 days! We’re smarter now, faster and often have laundry laying over everything in the house for the “final” drying at this time of year.

    • 12 days?! That is impressive. Yes – we have the same clothes strewn across the radiators, chairs, couches and more. We quickly pick them up before friends come over. Enjoy Granada, Candi!

  3. Love It! I finally broke down (actually broke the hubby down) and bought a used dryer from someone leaving the island. Best purchase I ever made!

    • Probably the wisest investment you could have made, Marla. My husband couldn’t fathom the idea of spending so much money on a dryer – especially when his mom, grandmother, cousins, etc. never complained or had one. Plus, I do’t know about you: but our electricity costs are through the roof! What does the dryer do to your electric bill? Or honestly, do you not care and kiss the ground that you don’t have to deal with what was written about any longer?

  4. Hi Claudia! I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Your verses are really clever.
    I’ve just come back in the house from hanging a load outside 😉 … wondering weather it might rain or not 🙂

    • Hi Sask! This really was meant for all us island girls and the never-ending laundry we seem to be doing – between washing, hanging, ironing, folding, repeat. Hope it stays dry for at least a day!

      Kisses – me

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