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My Father’s White Shirts

by Preeti Kaur

My Father's White Shirts_poem image

Image credit: © 2014 Preeti Kaur

i separate the blue striped pajamas from the pile
of white shirts
like himalaya snow melts into indigo river and ice pack
past thaws future liquid

i fill the washing machine with soap and a week’s worth
of my father’s undershirts
tangled like a clutch of heron’s eggs ready to hatch
only one will live

i watch the swans swoosh swash clean
curdling suds like hairbaths on sundays
then coconut oil kneaded into scalps

after the bell rings i pull out the bodies
stuff them into the dryer
like the trains filled on the last day of the raj
a stranger pushing my father’s father onto the ultimate train
before country borns into chopped limb

after the next cycle i grab each warm shirt
lay the belly down flat
like my father’s mother pressed
wished her tummy gone while pregnant
running up hills refusing to eat
not another baby into this world of refugees

i fold the shoulders in like my grandfather’s hunched back
someday my father will be a small man
i want to remember him always
as cologne and simco fixo holding his black beard

the shirts survive
another week

Preeti Kaur_author photoPreeti Kaur grew up in California. She has recently been published by Qarrtsiluni online literary magazine; Memoir Journal‘s anthology I Speak From My Palms; and Her Name Is Kaur: Sikh American Women Write about Love, Courage, and Faith. She will have a poem published in Spook magazine’s upcoming summer edition on the theme of Futurism.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. peeji #

    Lovely poem

    July 2, 2014

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