Liberation Study

This is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written. It started as an observation on the bus from Tibas to San Jose, Costa Rica:

hanging wash
A crucifix (sic)
of weathered board and nails
supporting laundry line and laundry
a woman with clothes pins
either praising, surrendering, or hanging wash
16 October 1989

There was something about this simple image that stuck with me, but for years I couldn’t put me finger on. Over the last 2 years, I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about it, reworking it, and I think I finally figured it out:


Liberation Study

on the bus
a la universidad
we pass her out back
before the afternoon rains

a cross of weathered
board and nails
suspending line
and laundry
above hard-packed dust

clothespins braced
between her fingers and teeth
struggling against
billowing sheets

arms raised overhead
gathering bedding
survivor narratives
unfatigued, undaunted
even against the storm
of culture

gust, snap
surety of faith
gust, snap
liberty of submission
gust, snap
dignity of the maternal

the wind shifts
through her loose strands of pelo
and her floral frock
gust, snap
lifts the veil

surrendering, or
hanging wash

© 1989-2019 Brian Brown-Cashdollar