Tag Archives: Washerwomen

“Washerwomen” – Poetry by Christina M. Rau

Washerwomen - Paul Gauguin, 1888
Washerwomen – Paul Gauguin, 1888

“Washerwomen” is one of two stirring and beguiling poems by Christina M. Rau in our Spring 2016 issue.

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preparing sheets to shroud the dead.

Men can’t resist a moondance,
a ripple dance, long white hair.

The women weave it to make the sheets
they wash. They wear tattered dresses,

black and grey, subsist on night
and liquid, act kindly to those

pure of heart, and those at peace,
and those who dream and walk the moon.

From caves underground,
they emerge beside stagnant waters.

They offer cleansing to those who
discard the harmony of the night.

They pull sinners close,
pretty day-faces wrinkle at dark.

Sins fade only below the surface
twisted in damp sheets—

these shrouds are for sins.
Sometimes the women are only shadows.

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