When I was 22, my day off was Tuesday,
when I always ding-dinged through
a grimy door on Massachusetts Avenue.
I wore my hair piled high and loose,
jeans frayed, earlobes silver-hooped;
I was always dazed, thirsty, slightly stoned,
hip-hefting the same old basket
filled with the same old clothes.
I never had enough change,
I always had to feed another dollar
to the coin machine, then scoop quarters up from the floor,
and spill-spoon detergent into the drawer.
Through a thin window, I watched it all churn
a frothing muddle, where sometimes, a garment
might become itself, visible only for an instant—
the collar of a work-shirt’s fleeting,
blue glance back, or a jeans pocket
kissing its cheek against the glass.
In the dryer, they spiralled damp to dry,
all fly and fall and fall and fly. In the silence
between walkman songs, between spools,
between (Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?
and Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere, all I could see
was washing machines, as though many, many clock-faces
had sprung open to give me a glimpse of inner cogs
and springs, all spinning, all whirring in foamy momentum
every Tuesday afternoon, when I lived in the distance.