cleansing the demons from my veins

by Rob Plath

once when i was a boy

the old washing machine

broke & my father

refused to fix it or buy

a new one

 

he also refused to give

my mother money

to go to the laundrymat

 

so she & i hand washed everything

& hung it out on thin twine tied

to a tree & a fence post

 

i remember it was summer

& it was hot enough for

the clothes to dry under the sun

 

the wringing out of the clothes

was tough on my hands which were

already dry & cracked from

being immersed in the tub

full of water & detergent

 

twisting the water from all

the clothing caused blisters & callouses

& my forearms to tighten & burn

 

all summer the rough clothes

that baked in the summer sun

rode my body

& turned my skin tougher

 

& although my skin thickened early

i eventually opened myself up

 

that summer was training

for my arms & hands to jab the alphabet

day after day & night after night

 

for my calloused fingertips to

ceaselessly poke the wearing keys

 

for my knotted forearms to not tire

when hovering over the poetry machine

while i cleanse demons from my veins

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