by Becca Grischow
The stains arrived on my thirteenth birthday,
murky and red and without apology,
trailing across the bed sheets
and sometimes seeping into my jeans.
Although my father was in charge of the laundry,
this seemed like the kind of thing I should clean on my own,
but they sprung up faster than I could scrub them out,
enormous orchids blooming in all of my clothes.
We never discussed it, like most things between us,
but I came home from school one day to a clean set of sheets,
jeans looking as new as the day I bought them,
and my dad, quiet at work in the laundry room.
Stains that mystified dry cleaners
and bowed to no amount of bleach
succumbed to merely Tide and water
under the governance of his thumb.
My father fears no flood;
he loves as plainly as a pair
of clean underwear
folded in the hamper