Issue 4 Cover_final_web Poecology

Issue 4

 

 
 

Michelle Donahue

 

I Bring My Laundry

 
Semuc Champey
 
 
I bring my laundry to the river
               with a kitchen bucket, plastic
neon and clear soap. The river Cohabón
runs coke glass green. I jumped
high from a rope swing and it pulled
my watch from wrist. Then me.

I bring my laundry to the river
               sprawling in Semuc Champey.
That’s Quiche, Mayan, for water hiding
beneath earth. In the K’am Ba caves
I swim with a candle dripping. Legs
egg beat, the way I learned in water polo.
We held 5 liter jugs of water and pumped
‘til it all ran out. My toes hit rocks.
There are 23 Mayan languages.

I bring my laundry to the river
               and try to rub dirt out. Use flat
stones like I’ve seen the Quiche
women do. In the cave, voices grew louder
when stone-bounced. I climbed a 12-foot
waterfall. I might have died. I didn’t
have to. I had to rip my head back
for any chance of breath.

I bring my laundry to the river.
               Not to wash neatly but to let
clothes touch fresh water and feel rough
cold. At the cave’s end, I was alone,
only a small candle plume and cave wind
whispering. My candle flickered. Without
that light I would be lost, wonderful, at once
everywhere and invisible in the dark.
               I blew my candle out.