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"From the Laundrymat" by Mallory Bass

From the Laundromat

I'm writing you from the laundromat, it's all beige

tile and green countertops for folding clothes. Detergent dispensers,

vending machine, a wallpaper of patterned socks hanging on a clothesline,

those laundry baskets that roll on wheels,

and I'm sitting in a yellow bucket seat watching my clothes spin so hard

the room shakes. I'm the only one here. I don’t care about anyone.

A man just walked in and is now taking the shirt off his back

to put into the washer. Dear all things holy please don't take off your pants.

He left them on but is now walking out the door shirtless

in 30 degree weather. The ego collects shoulds.

A woman and her husband put in 6 loads of laundry

with way too much soap and now are sitting on separate edges

of the laundromat looking at their phones.

She’s watching a horse birthing video,

"Yeah yeah less talk more action," she says to the phone.

The guy in the video says, "Yeah and the other horses are just curious,

they want to see the baby and smell it, they're not trying to kill it or anything,"

and she says, "Yeah yeah you already said that! Move on!”

I left as the guy said, "Horses always know what's going to happen before it happens."

I live in a motorcourt built in 1950, a white cement room on the side of Highway 90. It’s basically a place to park your car when you’ve driven too long

and you need to get out and see the stars. Sometimes in West Texas

the only thing that means anything is that there are millions of stars in view

and you can just tilt your head back and try to swallow them all but you won’t

be able to. You’re not able to do much about anything else because the land

does everything: it prances, it sprawls, it tongues, it wets, it dries, it jumps,

and stays put and glows and haunts and hurts and stings and bites

and it’s all the colors too, it’s all there is. People out here walk around

with their eyes shocked wide, with boulders in their mouths.

Next to the highway I sleep a directional sleep.

The first few nights you slept in my bed,

you’re so human that your body hummed

and I couldn’t hear the highway.

I want to tell you that your body is home

That you’re always in motion, that your back

covered in hair the color of perpetual sun

makes you a tumbleweed,

that I live inside my mouth,

that the mind is a tongue.

I’ve left my husband,

there’s a stranger in my strange bed,

I sleep next to the highway,

I just want to keep driving.


Mallory Bass is a writer and artist from Jackson, Mississippi. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California, and has attended Vermont Studio Center, Tin House, and Community of Writers. Her work has appeared in various publications online and in print. She lives in Los Angeles.

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