In my pristine green wash room,
I turn a black wool sweater inside out,
so my hand beading will remain intact
when I gently rub-a-dub-dub.
My jeans are old and frayed,
but memories line their pockets.
I extract sunflower seeds from the seams,
and it seems I’m once again cheering
at a soccer game in Foro Italico
an upward view of Belsito balconies
aflutter with overburdened clotheslines.
Tossing the jeans
in the washing machine
I see the hems are worn
and remember Roman summers
when I was a fleet charioteer
guiding tourists in the Coliseum,
near the Ghetto whose narrow alleys
were tented over by hanging sheets.
Ashes on a skirt give vent to dreams
of volcanic danger,
walking the edges of Etna.
where peasant girls in headscarves
hang clothes to dry in Sirocco winds.
Ah! and here are Nike shorts and socks,
outfit of a marathon racer to win your love—
I’d follow you anywhere, travel-lover.
You romance my heart as no one else,
like nothing else on earth—
We cruise the Mediterranean,
while the shoreline fisherman mend nets,
and women soak their salt-encrusted clothes.
A color profusion, a muted peacock’s tail on silk,
speaks of beckoning coastlines;
haunting images race back to me,
sailing the world’s wide open arms and finger lakes,
and I can picture still women in hijab
beating cotton robes upon flat rocks
on the banks of the Nile.
Open rock beach spaces
engorged by roaring surf
lead to fjords in Croatia,
and women rinsing soap from coverlets,
twisting towels of excess water.
Seas pilot us to tributaries of the Yangtze,
and evocative landscapes of river markets
as we travel on flat-bottom boats
in Bangkok and from the back of barges
wash tubs overflowing.
And always, always
burying their dead in water graves,
women cleansing away
the bloodstains of martyrs
in wars they never sought.