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Poem Number 157

"Old Scratch" is a slang term for the devil.


Michael Chitwood

A Coke bottle stopped
with a sprinkle head
sat at one end of the board.
She'd swap iron for bottle,
splash the cloth,
then go at it with the iron.
The crooked was made straight,
the wrinkled smooth,
and she'd lecture from that altar
where rumpled sheets went crisp.
"If Old Scratch gets his claws
in your thigh or neck,
you burn a thousand years
and that is the first day."
Our clothes got rigid,
seam matched seam.
Our bodies would ruin her work.


from Meridian, Issue 7, Spring 2001
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Copyright 2001 by Michael Chitwood.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).