Washing machine tousles dirty clothes, suds
searching for cleanliness. Dryer sheets scent
the air. Mom and auntie fold clothes of strangers
for $2 an hour. Disco plays on a transistor radio
outside the bubble-gum store next door. A man
smoking a cigar walks past the Laundromat.
He grabs my ponytail. My follicles cry. He keeps
pulling as if he’ll take me to the edge, drop me
into the void of his face. My neck strains
past my ear. Ponytail that reaches my tailbone
smells of charcoal, his wrinkled hands. A big
black hat atop a face with no nose or mouth.
Why would he take me? Where is my mother?
It is daylight and there are so many people
on the sidewalk. As he reaches the edge
of a tar-stained sidewalk, he lets go. Just like that,
no reason for taking me, no reason for letting go.
As I enter the Laundromat, a girl sits on the side-
walk and takes a piece of freshly thrown Bazooka
bubble-gum off the concrete, into her mouth. I tell
mom and auntie as they fold just bleached cotton
undershirts not even looking at me. They laugh
and say, “What man? You’re fine Sonia. You’re fine!”
After all, I am still here. They keep folding underwear.
On the radio, the music stops playing in the middle
of a Jackson 5 song. A man says the war is over
and our men are leaving a place called SighGone.
When they come back who will believe them?