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Cold Water Wash

It’s a story set in Ecuador, you tell me,
At a place where old men go
To be forgiven those sins
Too terrible to confess.
You speak of that place that has nothing to do with you.
Your hand flattens the pages of your manuscript. 
Keep the wrinkles few.  Keep the corners clean.

You touch my shoulder a little whenever you can. 
You do it when we enter the bar
When we rise from the table.
Your hands with license to touch like sea breezes. 
I let you do it.  I like fingers pressuring
The small of my back when we dance,
The little hint of a kiss I give you for fun.

Later you slip that same hand down into my jeans.
My hand blocks yours.
I say no.  I say stop.  You do not.
I speak firmer.  Louder.
Thirty seconds at most this goes on
Till you stop when you fear
I will scream and, you know,
I still can.

In a village in Ecuador
A sparse dappled dog
Drops a fresh mango pit
Coated with road dirt by the foot of the cross.
Now I will never see that village
Without the pit without the dog
Because you held me there
In that way
For that long
Against my will
It was like that.

My spirit is silk in the washer today
French lace dancing in the cotton cycle.
Cold water wash water level high
Cold water wash water level high.

Cold Water Wash," was published in Texas Journal on Women and the Law, Spring 1994. 

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