“Laundry Woman” by Meg Eden

Meg Eden


in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Strange—to give my laundry 
to a stranger, pay her
to wash my shorts & underwear;
to carry my dirty clothes across
a street of motorbikes and baby
elephants; for a woman
to staple a number on the hem
of my boxers, creating a hole
that lingers years after I return home.

Only my mother’s ever washed 
my clothes, does separate loads for me,
my father, and herself. Insists 
on washing underwear separately.
If only she knew! My underwear, tumbling 
with the underwear of everyone else on this street:
the fruit stand lady, the chicken kabob girl, 
the noodle shop man, the porn shop man,
the missionaries, the motorbiking college students.

Collecting my bag the next day, I find
my Pacman boxers replaced with a pair
of foreign lace panties—as if 
even the laundry woman thinks a girl 
shouldn’t be wearing men’s underwear,
let alone in the streets like shorts, 
that I’m about to enter college, that I should grow up 
and start acting my age—as if my mother, 
half a world away, is here speaking in my laundry bag. 

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021
Tribute to Neurodiversity


Meg Eden: “I am on the autism spectrum and have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder with obsessive compulsive properties. ASD is why I write, and OCD helps me fight for the precise words. Because of my ASD, I feel everything so big—and I think it’s because of this that people connect with my poems. I’m actually currently submitting a children’s book about an ASD girl who learns to find her voice through poetry.” (web)

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