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Sunday is Laundry Day

Artwork by Michelle Dong, staff artist

All three and a half cubic feet of me

rumble, cemented

into the basement floor of a house with

a bad paint job, according to the mother.

The wife needs to wear her floral skirt tomorrow

to look like she belongs in the throng

of church ladies with frown lines under their painted blue eyes.

Their powdered sugar smiles crumble as easily

as the gray ashes of the neighborhood Fourth of July barbeque

she was not invited to.

The husband will need his white button-down next week

because black is the color of American funerals,

but his ancestors mourned their dead in white cotton.

The last of the husband’s father is not

in his si-gol mountainside grave. His father has stayed

in that garden in the middle of a city, planted into

earth that remembers the husband as

just a boy: too young

to know how to grieve.

And the little girl cried without

making any sound, like her parents taught her. But she

ruined her favorite dress when that boy

teased her in front of all her friends for the smell

of her grandmother in her Pottery Barn lunchbox. There was

a plea, then, for peanut butter and jelly

like everyone else

in her Hello Kitty tin

because rice balls and kimchi never hurt anybody,

except in a third grade cafeteria.

I’m sorry your yellow socks faded to white.

I’m sorry that your hanbok shrunk two sizes too small.

I’m sorry I can’t fix

all the important things.

But I’ll hum you a tune if you’d like,

and take an extra load off your hands,

churning out some dilapidated song.

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