Doing Laundry in Yalikavak

Mike Barrett

Bug spray, sunscreen, sweat, mildew.
Our clothes reek of the past four weeks.
Stains of Istanbul rain, Ephesus dust,
grease that dripped from Doner kebabs,
olive oil (or yogurt?) that escaped
from breakfast plates, thick coffee
jostled out of cups on trains all float
like continents on everything we wear.
Wrinkles chart the streets we’ve hiked.

Sagging socks and shorts and shirts fit
my and my wife’s years comfortably,
but our daughter’s teenage skin is outraged
by their ominous feel. Things must be washed!
she declares and so we find a laundromat where,
for a few coins, soap and water erase the soil
as if it were nothing more than a mean hoax,
as if the stainless dress she’ll wear tomorrow
were real, as if our clean clothes won’t seem
like inhospitably white sheets, empty of us.


About the Author

Mike Barrett grew up in Montana and worked as a real estate lawyer in large law firms in Seattle, New York,and Washington, D.C. He recently retired (mostly) from practicing law and has turned to finishing poems he began years ago and to working on new ones. He lives in Seattle with his high-school sweetheart, wife and best friend Kathryn. They have two daughters, Anna and Libby.