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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.

—Michael Chitwood

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

Copyright 2001 by Michael Chitwood.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of University of Virginia from Meridian, Issue 7, Spring 2001. Copyright 2001 by Michael Chitwood. For further permissions information, contact Meridian, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400145-4145, Charlottesville, VA,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Michael Chitwood (1958- ) is the author of a number of poetry collections, including Living Wages: Poems (Tupelo Press, 2014). He earned a BA from Emory & Henry College and an MFA from the University of Virginia.

Learn more about Michael Chitwood at The Poetry Foundation.