The Gift

She bends over the large laundry hamper loaded
with sheets washed, ironed, folded, neat and crisp
shuts the lid, and shifts the hamper onto the truck.

She knows all the customers, knows all the routes,
speaks in a rough country accent recalling the time
her father wept, so many years passed, yesterday

a tough farm laborer, tears pouring down his rough,
weather worn cheeks, when she was just a slip of a girl
working her first job, in this laundry, this same laundry,

in this same dank room, small windows high up, cold
concrete floor, the machines run by great pulley belts
from a steam engine, when only the rich had electricity,

before the roads were paved, the laundry collected
and delivered with horse drawn wagons, the hours long
and hard, when she brought home her first pay envelope

gave to her father what he had never before touched—
a crisp five dollar bill—

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Copyright 2017© by Peter D. Goodwin