Winter, 1970

My safe place was the Laundromat on 45th, the one with a wooden bench between the row of washers and row of dryers. The dryers were only ten cents for ten minutes, and after thirty, the towels smelled like my bedroom before I left home to move in with four strangers. I loved to fold sheets and pillow slips, smooth the fabric with my palms. Sometimes the winter sun drifted in, lighting a dusty philodendron shoved under the window.

 I stood up with Jackie at her wedding, held her bouquet while Jim, home on leave, put the ring on her hand. I didn’t believe in vows, didn’t believe in forever. I was happy for the orange blossoms in her curled hair. She still wore pink frost on her lips. It had been a long time since I’d been in a church, and I liked the red light coming in from the windows cut like diamonds. No one listened to “Chantilly Lace” but she wore it and my perfume clung to my wrists. We couldn’t see the future. There was some meaning in dawn’s early light, waking in a stranger’s dingy room. Toast to the bride, to the lucky groom.

*From The Ark and the Bear, finalist in the Floating Bridge Press 2016 Chapbook Competition.

Arlene Naganawa is the author of two chapbooks, Private Graveyard (Gribble Press) and The Scarecrow Bride (Red Bird Chapbooks). Her poetry has appeared in Caketrain, Cider Press Review, Crab Orchard Review, Diner, Floating Bridge Review/Pontoon, Flying Chickadee, New Delta Review, Poetry on Buses, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Comstock Review, The Seattle Review, and other publications. She has received Seattle Arts Commissions individual literary arts awards. Much of her work is influenced by childhood summers spent in Whitefish, Montana, and in Seattle, Washington.

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