Listen to W.S. Di Piero reading this poem. Hankies and sheets, hopeless routine longing,
my mother and I, in the cellar twice each week,
her Sunbeam coasting under screws of steam,
me on my knees by the ironing board
to call Hail Mary’s. Our bodies vapored
into immaculate words. Shirt tails talked back.
I wanted more than what I prayed for.
Her music-box antiphons mumbled us
around the decades. Neither of us knew
why or what we implored. God jerked alive
in repetitions. I reeled Him in. She must
have been appeasing me because she feared
offending Him, deity of hurt and rue,
of affliction and splintered rafters weeping
wan work dungarees, school uniforms,
all together in our separate voices.
The God of iron, unsatisfied, hissed back.