Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts
Fiction   /   Nonfiction   /   Poetry

The Wash House

by Darrell Bourque


Time collapsed in my grandmother’s wash house.

In another time there would have been rooms

and  even separate houses to bank those things

she banked in here. From the rafters hung grasses,

dried, and green and purple basil dropping seeds,

on the floor, garlic braids hanging next to harnesses.

Boxes of onions on shelves & bulbs in sawdust

next to plow points & harrow spikes. Mamou leaves

in tightly closed jars and roots none of us could name.

Pickled beets and pickled mirliton & okra & pears

& figs in thick, dark syrup. Along the door jambs

spring frogs and lizards imprinted like intaglio,

little signs right where the door had slammed them in.

Cloth feed sacks and discarded clothes waiting

to be turned into aprons and skirts & shirts and quilts.

Everything in here was waiting for its use.

Someone connected to everything here saw pies

in the jars & newly turned earth in fields dark as night

& tended gardens sprouting every green imaginable,

saw lard and lye turning into soap, rainwater filled tubs

for curtains & table cloths & endless piles of bedding,

& saw too smaller basins of water for her hair.