Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CHINESE LAUNDRYMAN, by KAREN SWENSON



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THE CHINESE LAUNDRYMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: He is a librarian of laundry
Last Line: To make, one more time, the fabric hold.
Subject(s): China; Laundry & Laundering


He is a librarian of laundry
seen through his window labeled
YEM FUNG.
His hair the color of Christmas tinsel
is a tarnished blossom between the poinsettias
that flourish in the steam heat of his trade.

His life is shelved with sleeves and collars,
sheets renewed for love or loneliness.
His labor is to make crisp again
what every day is worn or slept between.

Among the fleshy leaves of begonias,
head bent to my craft, I attempt to iron
truisms shabby as the sheets of love
or to turn the frayed collar of a thought
as I fight the wear of centuries
to make, one more time, the fabric hold.





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