Dream Quest One Second Writing Prize -
of Slocomb, Alabama
A BASKET CASE
I learned long ago
that things we owned, or thought we owned, possessed us more than the other way around. Cars were that way. Houses and pets
also. My Mom’s old irons were another example; something that girded a dusty shelf in rusty array, like corroded vestiges
from the past.
Her favorite iron was the largest. A chipped,
black monstrosity with a frayed cord. It bled rust and tarnished with time. But the iron bore my mother’s finger prints
upon its surface. Maybe that’s why I kept it. Its heft weighed like oppression.
#2. A Basket Case/Crider
My youth was filled
with years of Saturday mornings, watching mom as she raised her heavy munitions of irons against the tyranny of wrinkles,
against the rebellious onslaughts of disorderly sleeves and wayward creases of pant-legs that drifted aimlessly in polyester
and cotton. I recalled how she dedicated herself to this unending task, with almost the same intensity, that years later,
I reflected that while her basket seldom left the ironing board’s side; mine slouched
intolerably inside the cavernous spaces of a closet. While her past basket struggled to stay full, my present one burgeoned
over the basket’s rim. Rebellious buttons peered outside the open spaces of my plastic basket, like inmates longing
to escape its barriers.
In mother’s day, ironing forecasted her weekly accomplishments. A résumé
of some sort written on the backs of her family. She made sure it spoke well of her. Often, in my mind’s eye, the sweat
on her brow glistened in the light, like the string of safety pins that dangled down the front of her faded- should have
thrown out years ago- dress. It was as mottled as her shadow upon the uneven, plastered walls of the living room; as discordant
as the notes to the tune whose tune she mangled, called Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. In her entire lifetime of ironing,
the song was the only thing she could not straighten out. Now, when I hear Willie Nelson as he croons the tune on the radio,
Whenever I ironed, the scene of my mother sweating over an ironing board always surfaced in
me. Maybe I saw myself in it. Nonetheless, I searched for an easier, unwrinkled life from the dryer’s perma-prest settings.
Its finished product
left me with a sense of victory, of elation. But after clothes hung out
on hangers, secured in their closeted world, a thousand crèche crinkles moved in; then dimpling followed the crinkles
Perhaps crinkles needed a warm iron to soothe their brow, if indeed they had one. Perhaps no
amount of ironing or body heat would relax them. Did the past tell them about the archaic baptism of yesteryear when each
wrinkle endured sprinkling; endured being rolled up in a basket bed? Maybe, the ironing felt deprived of what its forbearers
took for granted- -the personal offerings of a steamy iron sauna.
I think the unpruned crop of ironing wearied itself, as it searched for
my good ironing mood--one needed to plow through acres of shirts, pants and dresses. But I figured, the ironing should have
learned that ironing required a good mood, one that overcame the deep-seated ennui of the ironer, traversing up and down
a flat plane, like a farmer his field.
My problem of burying the ironing was like planting a crop that turned
weedy. A crop with its roots tangled in trauma from negative life experiences. In my case, probably related to wash and wear.
This innovation had failed and left me open to destructive criticism. Tomboy activities, coupled with perspiration, pressed
entropy into my garments, taking me with it; as a result, my clothes covered me like an ill-fitting wind.
a lifetime of mom using starch, wrinkles from her ironing garnered themselves onto her face. Maybe it was her only hallmark
of distinction. Nonetheless, I never came close to matching her ironing output, her dedication.
#3. Crider/ A Basket Case
There was always a burn mark somewhere, or a fold that
solidified into an unforgiving crease. And how did an iron detour around zippers without knocking out their teeth?
mother, whose empty-basket dedication praised her sense of duty, my full ironing basket exuded pressure against the door,
like it was trying to come out of the closet. The door creaked open so many times, it wore out the latch. I slammed the
door repeatedly, until the unending task overwhelmed me, and I was driven to arrest a shirt that incited a riot. It toppled
the ironing, onto the closet floor. I sentenced the insurgent to solitary confinement, and left its cotton-fibered conspirators
to fulminate into mustiness.
Then one day the planets aligned. The eclipse took place and for once,
the overdue ironing mood arrived. The clothes cheered. A parade marched inside the perimeters of the closet.
I buy new clothes for them’?” My family asked. I didn’t bother to tell them they looked new, because they
had resided in the ironing indefinitely. I placed the ironed garments in closets, next to my new found pride. Pride that
stumbled past my sleepy shadows of indifference, past my dusky rays of achievement. My migratory pride announced that a
good mood was not necessary to endure the never-ending ironing, not if ironing could be kept to a minimal.
that month, I came across a calendar that highlighted the high and low tides of the sea. I thought what better plan to follow
than the constancy of nature. My new focus to stay on top of the ironing would follow the ocean tides, before my ironing
plowed into its own ocean tide.
#4. Crider/ A Basket Case
I came to realize the
moon controlled these tides, the same way ironing had controlled me. If the moon’s gravitational pull was that overwhelming,
maybe its invisible power could channel the high and low tides of ironing, that threatened to own us all.
# # #
About the author/poet:
I have been writing all my life. I am a poet, a novelist, and
a picture book writer. My books are coming out in the near future. I promote a writer's group in Dothan, (the Wiregrass
Writers). We have been together about 8-9 years. I am also an artist. I live with my husband and grandson in Wicksburg,
AL. ~Karen Crider