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The Laundromat Saint

The way mother folded
my clothes. What did I learn?
I still don’t know what I’m doing.

My hands could never be as good.
Eight years old, I’m with Mom at our laundromat,
a handful of quarters to keep us busy,

a gumball machine,
a knob that turns

a Snickers bar,
a can of store-brand root beer,
a little wrestler in his tiny plastic dome.

I pat my pockets
for a prayer card from my mother.
It lives there.

Today, a man in the rear works evenings
while I thumb prayers,
coins & sink into rhythm.

His hands chisel & chisel little curls off
slabs of wood.
Mother of God,

the man carves saints into this shape:
Guadalupe, Lupe, Guadalupe
I hum with care while he works

endlessly. He blows the sawdust away.
I’ve been waiting for my mother’s hands
to fold me all along.

Son of Mexican immigrants. Writer in The Missouri Review, Blackbird, Kenyon Review. Editor-in-chief @ THE BOILER. MFA from Sarah Lawrence.