Washing Dishes


Washing the Dishes


Mist touches my cheek

a gentle caress

like a lover soft and warm,

like you.


Away in tomorrow's yesterday

minutes to hours and days.

Away to nights kissed with

ginger, sunshine, laughter, desire.


Away to romance written

in the pages of dime-store books.

Away from too much life

and this sink of soapy dishes.


Away to a time when things

might have been different.

To kiss, to kiss. You.

Yes, to kiss.


Hot water breaks over platters

in my tiny kitchen late at night.

Laughter rings, I see your face,

but you are far away. Not here.


Hands moving, I sigh

through silky blue green water.

It is agony to think of you,

a warm, watery heartbreak soaping

plate after plate, glass after glass.


My bones quietly ache for you,

for an unknown lover's touch.

So until tonight, my love.

Let us tryst once again in dreams.

Like a lover soft and warm

Like you.


This poem. I can’t even remember when I wrote it, exactly, but I can remember what I was thinking, how my mind expands with the touch of water, making something something mundane, like washing dishes, an extraordinary experience. I picture other places, become other faces, meet characters in the labor pains of new fiction scratching my brain.


I wrote this poem alongside a short story called “Meatloaf Tuesdays” about an abused woman who finds a happy place, an escape through the act of washing dishes. The warm water transports her far away to another life, a better life with the romantic heroes of her Harlequin Romance novels.


Washing dishes can be a form of moving meditation, and oftentimes I find myself slipping into an altered space by way of Dawn dish soap. The repetitive action and warm water soothe the wrinkled edges of my spirit, and like the shower, creative ideas come to me straight from the tap. Maybe it’s because I’m a water sign. Maybe my muse is too. When people ask about the practice of daily writing, they usually ask about inspiration. I don’t know about you, but I find that if a writer keeps regular business hours, the muse knows where to look. But should you find her MIA, might I suggest looking in a sink full of bubbly dishes?


(Photo credit: Molly Walsh for the Wall Street Journal)

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