Monday, May 12, 2014

"Detachable Collars" Places First in Gilman Library Contest

"Detachable Collars: Summer 1956" has received first place in the 2014 Poet's Tea Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Gilman Library in Farmington, N.H.


He had owned the laundry
Where I worked, summers of my college years,
Passed it on to a nephew
But would still come in
About ten o’clock
And walk around the steamy room,
Greeting the girls, he called them,
At the mangle, a flirtatious grin
For the one who took the third fold.
Then he would repair to his ancient, private press
And—slowly, carefully—finish
The detachable collars that a few
Fellow octogenarians still wore,
Weekly packages mailed from Biddeford, Maine.

Weary, he’d sit in the office,
Reading the Laundryman’s Journal,
Out of Joliet, Illinois,
And murmur, to no one in particular,
Heard only by the young bookkeeper,
Who did not have long to live,
As it happened,
So much work to get out, he sighed;
So much work.

He went quietly one August night.
That morning we took a few hours off,
Dale, the washman, and I,
Awkward in our only suits,
But came back in at two o’clock:

So much work to get out. 

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