recycled on a garage floor,
the six months before you almost
had a handle on.
It’s not telling anyone.
Rewashing everything
on the bottom layer
when twice a year without warning
the washer leaks and floods
everything that made sense.

It’s the cockroach
that everyone calls a water bug
but you know better,
that jumps onto your leg and you finally cry, after you’ve been holding your breath—
how long?
Inhaling mildewed air through heaves
is commonplace,
and you really hate the way it tastes,
but it’s familiar and comforting.
The laundry room, a soundproof room.

It’s social media.
You keep seeing posts about how all the moms are drowning; we are so articulate
expressing our collective soul death,
being agreeable with one another.
No one’s reaching out.
We’re still uncomfortable with rage
we save for the laundry room,
the broken broom that spins, the dustpan
that bends, comparison, dishes,
the one more task, tangled tresses
we hide in messy buns, our smile
that says we’re having fun.
Everyone believes us and you believe too
until the laundry room…

It’s that saying, “It takes a village.”
It’s loneliness in disguise,
consuming everyone but especially you.
Especially you can’t tell anyone
how bad it really is.
It’s self-indulgence and narcissism from Mom
or Dad or Grandpa or Grandma.
It doesn’t matter who; what matters is
there’s only so much you can do;
it’s insidious, in you.

Selected byNolcha Fox
Image credit: Julianna Arjes

Kaci Skiles Laws is a closet cat-lady and creative writer who reads and writes voraciously in the quiet moments between motherhood and managing Crohn's Disease. She was a 2023 winner for Button Poetry's short form contest, and her short story Eugene was nominated for a pushcart prize in 2022 by Dead Skunk Mag. Her most recent poetry has appeared in 3Elements Review, River Teeth Journal, Blood Tree Literature, and elsewhere. Her poetry books, "Strange Beauty" and "Summer Storms" are available on Amazon, and her most recent chapbook, "Smile, Child" is available from Bottlecap Press.