December 15, 2014
This building is very long—it goes back, moving west, and the walls that nod to the north
and south face each other and they stay 10 feet apart. The east and west walls, in my
estimation, are 50 feet apart. You can see that the room is not a square.
In the back left corner, there is a green 7UP dispenser. Next to that is an industrial fan,
turned off, because it is December 15th. A vending machine holds a few bags of potato
chips and then row after row of Milky Way. The TV is on and the news plays. They say it
is the busiest day of the year at the US Post Office. Just underneath the TV is a green
cord with small jewel-toned bulbs hanging; illuminated. The man running this
Laundromat watches over his space. He scratches the lower half of his face and wears a
Two boys sit in the middle of the room. One goes out and then there is one left. When the
first boy comes back, he carries two white plastic bags. He pulls out a green bottle made
The TV now plays “Wheel of Fortune” and a woman excitedly yells “Two Is!” There are two
dings one right after the other and she says, the pitch of her voice ascending, “I’d like
to solve the puzzle!” The puzzle is a saying about an apple.
To my left is an arcade game. The name of the game is Ms. Pac Man. I remember playing
Ms. Pac Man with my sister. One afternoon, we were inside an arcade with one another,
selecting games on which to spend our nickels. This afternoon was just one year ago, so
we were adults, and we had plenty of nickels; we didn’t have to ask anyone to give us
more. We saw some games with things that spun around and lit up but we kept away
from them. That is when we discovered Ms. Pac Man, next to Pac Man the original. My
sister and I, standing next to one another, commanding movement from two digital blobs
at our respective stations.
She moved on to several levels which I never saw.
I stayed inside the same black screen, chomping through the blackness.
December 15, 2014
A man near me rests his prayer book on top of the gumball machine
The book rests and the man is mouthing the words
His prayers are work; I watch the words require effort from his muscles and his mouth
and once the whole body is called it is not easy, no matter
where the devotion comes from—
December 28, 2014
I walk past the Laundromat tonight, pulling a suitcase full of dirty clothes, but I have just
stepped off the plane about two hours ago and it is too soon to clean them. First I need to
step into the house. I need to step into the house before I do anything.
I wonder how long it will take me to “arrive” anywhere while sitting here
my knees are bent, and so right now, I am shorter
the bird outside is somewhere (around the corner?) and unaware of my listening
I spend equal amounts of time thinking about people I see consistently and people I will
not see again
there are a few that got “away”
who haven’t left the city.
One is Steve and he lives just up the street, and we keep different hours, so we don’t
come and go in any way that intersects or even parallels one another; in fact, I suspect
that our separate movements are rarely significant or productive at the same time of any
day, but this is only what I suspect, and this suspicion is only probable & within the
realm of truth if he is at all the same as how he was back when I knew him.
I possess a kind of health
somewhere; I know it.
I come awake each day like this;
right away to talking.
Yes, I Was OK
The apple I brought I caress quietly in my palms and that done immerse myself and take
My teeth take a bite and the apple’s vermilion rind tears smudging faintly its soft-snow
One bite another, and at the apple’s sourness I tremble faintly in the morning bathtub
–Okamoto Kanoko, “Still Life” from Yokushin (Bathing Body), 1925
Never having experienced a bath like Okamoto Kanoko’s, I feel inadequate to fully
experience this day and the ones following quickly after it.
If I could, I would ask Okamoto Kanoko if she was expected to bathe every morning.
I feel more for the morning than I do for the night.
Upon waking, I bend all of my toes at once and then release them. Then, I sit up and try
to get my neck loose; letting my head be heavy as it makes imperfect circles.
In acting class, Lisa talked about the horizon. We were to arrive at 8:30 in the morning to
the orchestra rehearsal room, dressed in loose clothing, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and
She walked in and we got up to stand and make a few rows, with our eyes forward.
She wanted us to keep our eyes open with a soft focus.
She came around to make adjustments.
She tried to make my shoulders loosen.
I apologized but maybe she didn’t hear me.
My mother was so careful with me.
Yes, I was ok with baths as a child; why confess the rest of it?
The water wasn’t warm enough and I always liked hot water, but when she put me in the
bath, we just looked at one another.
AMY LIPMAN teaches writing at Harper College and Carthage College, and serves brunch at The Winchester. Her work has appeared in Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Ghost Proposal, and NightBlock. She lives and writes in Chicago and you can find her here.