Many years ago, I took a poetry class in college and read The Shirt Poem by Gerald Stern. I was taken with the imagery of shirts marching through the closet, oblivious to the life changes of their wearer. I wish I could find a good copy to link to. I’ve read this poem to my kids and it makes me weep.
(with apologies to Gerald Stern and The Shirt Poem)
The laundry room is the last bastion of segregation.
Whites sit apart from blacks,
Lights stand separate from coloreds.
Blue jeans avoid those delicate,
While intimates cuddle together.
Children’s clothes avoid the writhing masses of adult debauchery.
You know the clothes I’m talking about—
Those R-rated ones that slither and gyrate,
With his underwear sliding over hers suggestively
As they breathlessly await the dryer.
But crossing a laundry line is seldom permitted.
Should a dark mingle too long with the whites,
Or a rough rider tangle the fragile,
We all know what happens—
The damaged clothes are cursed and cast aside.
I say the stained shirts should stand tall,
Proudly displaying their perceived flaws.
Brave pioneers in the fight against uniformity,
They are but startling reminders of our own prejudice.
We could all be so brave; we should all be so flawed.