Stain Busting Tips. No Soliciting.
Change taps into slots: twenty-five cents to dry.
Detergent speckles the floor. The clock forgets us.

A bemused workman unloads dirty wash
from a gingham bag into a toploader,
studies the Stain Busting Tips, the No Soliciting

sign. A plump Penelope carousels a yellow
bedspread in the Big Boy. She cell-phones home.
No one answers. The clock forgets us.

Penelope leans on a front loader, picks yellow
lint from her cleavage and reads aloud,
“Stain-Busting Tips” and “No Soliciting.”

Outside, an over-pruned mulberry tree stitches
sky to cinder-block wall. If I breathe
quietly enough, the clock will forget me,

Penelope’s intricate body lacing into the half-
light of this almost cloudy day, rococo light on
the Stain Busting Tips and No Soliciting signs.
The workman sighs: the clock has forgotten us.

Carol Frith