Ultra Motives

From Writing Notebook 2021, published in 2022.

Ultra Motives

Big pile of Oxford cloth
men’s cotton white office-work
shirts long-sleeve fine-weave
that first I wash them
hot water and nice strong
bleach I like a damn
bright white shirt with a
glow you could see it
from outer space if you
went to outer space and
took a look you would
need sunglasses and still say
Mercy on my eyeballs.
That shirt.
So next then
I get out starch and
hot iron I glide slide
hot iron up and down
acres of white cloth that
I steam-press cuff and collar
sleeve placket yoke pocket shirttail
crisp like a fresh onion
snapping off a sharp knife

So that when a shirt
of mine takes a spin
out there on city streets

I know it looks good and I know why –

Don’t tell me ironing is
a chore of the past
of the subjugated housewife
drudge woman tuned to outdated
misdirected and wholly wasted effort –
a shirt that in wear
inevitable it’ll be wrinkled out
sweated up and spilled on –  
but I say to you:
if a person goes
to all this trouble

don’t you think it’s about more than the shirt?


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