The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Travels from My Laundry Room

Nina Romano

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
baptizing babies,
burying their dead in water graves,
women laundering
women cleansing away
the bloodstains of martyrs
in wars they never sought.

About the author

Nina Romano earned an M.A. from Adelphi University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University. Her short fiction and poetry work appears in The Rome Daily American; The Chrysalis Reader; Whiskey Island; Gulf Stream Magazine; Grain; Voices in Italian Americana; Vox; Chiron Review; Irrepressible Appetites; Roads Literary Magazine, Night Train, A Little Poetry, and GULFSTREAM!NG. Excerpts from her novel-in-progress, The Secret Language of Women, appear in Dimsum: Asia's Literary Journal and also in Driftwood. Her debut poetry collection, Cooking Lessons, was published in June, 2007 by Rock Press, and submitted for a Pulitzer Prize. Her new collection, Coffeehouse Meditations, will be published in 2010 by Kitsune Books.