Epistemology of Laundry

this week’s last load of laundry has me stealing
my son’s precious teenage time    I reenact the duty

of my father and what comes hammering back
are trips with him    pushing his cart of dirties down

the street    his southern charm waving or shaking
hands—: bus driver    mailman    neighbors get

countless invites to dinner or a Saturday bbq
my father’s good morning darlin’ clanks & pings

as quarters spill into the bona fide grip
of the present    my son’s hands show signs

he’s ready for the tedious work ahead as he storms
through pile after pile    then his precision when offering

assistance to a stranger    this chore becomes a lesson
for the two of us    this shared work turns and tumbles  

neatly folds—: a fond memory


Copyright © 2016 F. Douglas Brown. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“‘Epistemology of Laundry’ is a response to poet Geffrey Davis’s series of epistemology poems in his book, Revising the Storm (the two of us have been working on a collaborative project where our poems are in conversation with one another regarding fatherhood). The poem seeks to pinpoint a moment when I think recollection is teaching me, but the reality is, the present offers the lesson. In other words, as a father, I am often full of fallacies: hand down the ‘old ways’; force ‘duty’ onto your children; yelling creates understanding. However, what I have come to know is that these ‘fallacies’ are always corrected by my children (in the poem’s case, my son) who allow me to be a fully realized parent.”
—F. Douglas Brown