Laundromat by Lucas Spriggs

As I wait for my fucking laundry
I can’t help but stare at them.
Some fat woman, out of breath
From loading clothes in the dryer,
Sits and drags one swollen hand
Over her damp forehead
As the other reaches for a diet coke.
I look away
Before she catches me staring.
Five little black children
Crowd around the candy machine.
The youngest sticks his hand
Up through the slot
But he’s denied the sweet reward
By devices put in place
Long before he was born.
I shift my gaze
Up to their mother.
She seems callous and bitter
As she methodically pulls
Tiny clothes from a trash bag,
Ushers them into the washers—
Knowing they’ll get dirty once again.
I think of a joke I heard recently
And remember how I laughed.
I look away
Before she catches me staring.
A woman with matted greasy hair,
Al dressed up for laundry day,
Hauls her basket through the door.
She’s the envy of her trailer park
She walks with a graceless swagger
And shallow confidence.
She speaks louder than she has to
As she reminds her too-cool husband
That they need to go Wal-Mart.
I look away
Before she catches me staring.
I pull away
To the tumble and buzz of the mundane
Chore that brought me to this place.
As I pull clothes from the dryer
My eyes are drawn to a solitary figure
Staring at me.
I’m the first to look away.
I wonder why that stupid bitch was
Staring at me!

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