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Michel Cicero

Previous Publications: Poetry Super Highway


My mother ironed
our underwear.
The cigarette balanced
at the edge of her tight
rope lip, defied gravity.
Burnt orange ashtray,
danced atop the ironing board
like an open grave, primed
for another skeleton to fall.

"Welcome to the Chinese Laundry,"
she'd say, laughing
on the outside. Surrounded
on all sides, by hanging garments
which doubled for wallpaper.
In the 70's our clothes matched
our kitchen. We wore avocado
and ate dead animals.

Later, from her living room
deathbed, in a morphine
dream, perpetually lit
cigarette clutched between
bony fingers, she flicked ashes
on her grave and scribbled
final arrangements on a steno
pad in pencil.

I chose French vanilla lace
for the funeral. Grief has
many flavors. We buried
her in perfectly pressed
blue jeans and trademark
white Keds. Ashes to ashes.

Simplicity is an acquired taste.
I sort laundry into dark
and light, steam sharp
creases into my husband's
shirt sleeves by request.
I don't mind wrinkles.