washing day

my name is clementine
and i need time
breakdowns take time, you know

they sent me away, child
they sent me away
i want to go home
i need to go home
they won’t let me go home
where is my home?
do they even remember me there?

i need time
time to do the baking
as if this great depression were not bleak enough
there’s a war on, you know
there’s a war on and it’s washing day and all three
of my boys’ socks need darning
and there’s no formula for the baby
and the laundry keeps piling up
and my husband just sits on the porch
smoking his pipe

i need time, child
breakdowns take time, you know

sometimes i think it might not be so bad to take the drink
just one very small sip
but the pastor says that is not the answer
i need time
time to sleep
sleep, perchance to … god, i am so tired
sometimes i think it might be nice to just
lie down on the kitchen floor and sleep
… but who has time for that?
breakdowns take time

that’s what they said i had
when they sent me away the first time, child:
“she’s having a breakdown.”

i wanted to howl then. oh, how i wanted to howl
but ladies don’t. ladies just don’t.
always remember this, child: proper ladies do not howl.
ladies in 1941 with husbands and children
and a war on and no food in the pantry
most certainly do not howl.
they simply break down
and get sent away

listen to me, child, i need more time
i need time to get to that laundry
i need time to get those damn socks darned
i need time to bake
something sweet for the boys
my sweetie boys
and i can’t possibly do it all

so i think i choose
to sleep
i will finish the washing
then i will sleep
sleep the glorious sleep of the dead
sleep, and stop feeling like i’m the one
being fed through the wringer

child, i am going to need more time
need to sleep
need to break down
to wash this stain off me

take me out with you tonight
out for some tea, and maybe a dance
let it be just you and me
& let’s howl, shall we?
lord, how we shall howl

and after …
perhaps then there’ll be time to sleep

0 Replies to “washing day”

  1. i loved the conversational quality here… like an inner dialog… something so familiar to each and every one of us… each one different.. each one peppered with illness and logic and dreams…..

  2. I wonder if things have changed much since that time… Your excellent voice carries the conversation from beginning to end. Fine work!

  3. you’ve use a very convincing voice here

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