Cleaning Out

By: Anonymous

Illustrated by: Ashley Anthony


Doing laundry you might lose me

as coins in the pockets of corduroy overalls,

clinking and chiming, worthy, shiny.

Washed down the drain, I could fall


to the back of the machine, down the s-bend

to some damp but clean nook where I might

wonder how your clothes were with mine blended.

You might find that, in the dim fluorescent light,


you’ve replaced me with someone else’s sweater or panties.

You might reach into your pockets for change to pay for a date

and know I’m gone and moved on. I hope you miss those pennies

and I hope you never stop waiting for the washer to quit spinning.


I could whirl through the dryer and emerge without your

ugly passion red tainting me and the heat would

hiss and thrum and I would not forget myself on the floor.

I hope someone forgets you on the floor and you wake up one day,


victim underneath the countertop in the laundromat.

Like toeless socks pillaged from gaudy plastic shelves,

once entire but today weary and frayed and shoved

into an unceasing torrent of exhaustion, detergent, joy, gels;


I tiptoe this clothesline, unraveled and untrusting. The stains

of the year have been removed from me, and if my guard

comes down you might mislay me again in the laundry, I may

wake one day in the lint trap with everything else you discarded.