There was a time when I traveled
in the dark, sheer across 21st street –
pyjamas, padded slippers, quarters jangling
under my winter coat, as though a homeless person,
or a crazy, only to wash my sheets.
There was a time when I delivered my laundry
to a large Laundromatic drum, sat on a plastic chair
waiting for the cycle to finish, squeaky brown seat
upon bright orange linoleum. I wrote letters to you
on formica countertops as people were sorting their
whites from their darks.
There was a time when the operatics of soap suds
dying against a plastic porthole
distracted me from reading Great American Novels.
On Sundays I talked about the rain with the Chinese lady,
the one who had an endless supply of change in her jar.
New York was a hard place to live.
This is not New York. Today
our dirty linens have no duffel bag to contain them.
I carry them down carpeted stairs in bare feet.
The arms of our sweaters reach to each other,
your socks spin inside my socks.
she has to go.
You’re kicking her out.
she’s bringing you down.
woefully out of fashion.
So you start with drowning,
but she won’t sink –
her blue painted eyes
smile knowingly at you,
Her thin frame resists
your hands –
her plastic body drifts
in the ocean of your childhood
She floats back up to you
Still she doesn’t die
when you put her
in the microwave–
even as her plastic legs burn.
The timer rings,
you scrape her out –
still fully intact.
There’s no explosion
like you’d hoped,
no combustible parts.
decapitate her –
girls always do.
You chop off her hair,
pull off her legs.
Even then –
all her doll parts
in bits, scattered –
she stays afloat,
of a complete death,
a kind of decaptitated Ophelia.
The Last Time I Went To The Movies With Ida
A new hairstyle, wisps of her
dyed blonde hair falling
onto her thin eyebrows.
Beads, a scarf, red nails,
French tips. I wheeled her
an Avenue and a block.
At the Quad, she befriended
the usher, popcorn crumbs
scattered on his shirt, a whizz
with wheelchair brakes. Winking,
she told him: This is Manhattan,
of course they have a section for wheelchairs.
It was a Parker Posey movie –
some low budget New York independent
thing. She fell asleep
halfway through. I debated
whether I should wake her,
watched 40 something actors,
self- indulgent dinner party dialogues.
What did I miss? Ida took my hand,
stroked my palm with her fingers.
On screen they were drinking
Amy Schreibman Walter is an American writer and teacher living in London. Her poetry and articles have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and her latest poetry chapbook, Houdini’s Wife and Other Women, was recently published by Dancing Girl Press. You can find her here.