I stand here ironing
--after Tillie Olsen
I stand here ironing. I pick up the empty toothpaste tube, scissor it, dig deep, the silver glinting inside. The brush handle breaks and I cradle the shards in my hand. I stand here ironing. I weep and eat soup and get skinnier and skinnier. I’m hired for jobs and all renege because there’s no money, there’s Covid, there’s death. I become mentally ill. I used to shoot up with candy to sleep. I stand here ironing and pop meds. I’m a joke. I’m a fool. I loom large to myself and dumb. I scrape white paint from the floor with my nails. The blades are all gone from my youth. I gather the clothes. I stand here ironing. I clean the bath and crawl across the floor with a rag. I stand here ironing. I mend. I’m a kept woman. I fold the laundry and place it in drawers. The towels are threadbare, but I refuse. My hair grows down my back. The migraines come and go and make holes. I sit in the bathroom, the hot turned up high, for when my baby can barely breathe. I stand here ironing. No one irons anymore. I stand here ironing. I’m dragged down the street, a ziptie cutting my wrists. I’m seconds from peeing all over the sidewalk, my bladder is so full. Tear gas, I’m told, likes milk. I nursed them each until they were two. I wrote Poison Control’s number in permanent marker on my arm. I’m a fool, I’m a joke. I’m in jail. I stand here ironing. Memoirs are squares, youth was a knife, youth was a savior, youth was a horrible song.
Read Cormac McCarthy’s book, THE ROAD. You have to. One of my top ten forever, people. Top ten.