After pulling the poison ivy that has taken over the azaleas at the edge of the yard, I throw away my gloves, leave the boots outside, and strip beside the washing machine, drop it all in, and head to the shower. It is not the shower I want to praise today, no, it is the washing machine, hunkered there in the corner of the basement, beside its warm companion.
It’s bad in our neighborhood this year, the poison ivy keeps popping up everywhere along the road where we walk, the three leaves bright green as spring, as happiness. Sliding under the pinestraw at the edge of the yard, climbing the trees, taking over the bank of azaleas. It was too much. It had to be done: the longsleeve shirt, the old pair of jeans, the heavy socks, the gloves. I drop the face mask in the trash—lucky, these days, to have a big box of these.
After I shower and dress, I head back down, turn the dial to hot, the other dial to heavy. I drop in the clear pod of detergent, its translucent body like some sea creature’s spawn. I punch start. Every weekend, after our hours of sweating in the garden, we leave our dirty clothes in the washer and then they are clean, to be worn again. Today, I wash away the poison. Today I praise the washing machine, the way it swishes and whirrs, the shudder of the spin, and then the small yellow light that comes on and says done.
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