Thursday, January 3, 2008


Sorting Laundry is an inspiring poem about life and love through a metaphorical view of daily life.

Friday, August 3, 2007

"Sorting Laundry"

Folding clothes,
I think of folding you
into my life.

Our king-sized sheets
like tablecloths
for the banquets of giants,

pillowcases, despite so many
washings, seems still
holding our dreams.

Towels patterned orange and green,
flowered pink and lavender,
gaudy, bought on sale,

reserved, we said, for the beach,
refusing, even after years,
to bleach into respectability.

So many shirts and skirts and pants
recycling week after week, head over heels
recapitulating themselves.

All those wrinkles
To be smoothed, or else
ignored; they're in style.

Myriad uncoupled socks
which went paired into the foam
like those creatures in the ark.

And what's shrunk
is tough to discard
even for Goodwill.

In pockets, surprises:
forgotten matches,
lost screws clinking the drain;

well-washed dollars, legal tender
for all debts public and private,
intact despite agitation;

and, gleaming in the maelstrom,
one bright dime,
broken necklace of good gold

you brought from Kuwait,
the strangely tailored shirt
left by a former lover…

If you were to leave me,
if I were to fold
only my own clothes,

the convexes and concaves
of my blouses, panties, stockings, bras
turned upon themselves,

a mountain of unsorted wash
could not fill
the empty side of the bed

Elisavietta Ritchie

Elisavietta Ritchie Biography

Elisavietta Ritchie was born to Russian immigrants in 1932. Her life has been filled with many varied and interesting experiences, many of which have inspired her writings. She has studied in Paris, New York, and California. She has written several books of short stories and poetry. Her works have also been published in numerous text books, newspaper, magazines, and other periodicals. She is married to Clyde Farnsworth, a novelist and former correspondent for the New York Times. The poem, “Sorting Laundry,” was actually written by Ritchie when she was debating whether or not she should marry Farnsworth. She has two sons, a daughter, and two step sons. Besides writing, her interests include Buddhism, tennis, marine and wildlife conservation, and marine biology. At the present time, Ritchie lives in Maryland and is working novel, as well as, making progress on new works of poetry (Chen). “Sorting Laundry” was written in first person and the poem take places as the author is folding laundry and comparing the simple chore to her relationship with her lover, to whom the poem is written. The poem moves in and out of metaphorical comparisons of love and laundry to imaginative and amusing observations of everyday life.

"Sorting Laundry" Analysis

Like folding a shirt, one section at a time, each person allows someone into their life, slowly entwining their hearts together.
Part of allowing someone into their life is sharing their dreams with each other. They lie in bed, propped on their pillows and share their dreams and hopes – dreams that run so deep they infuse themselves into the pillow onto which they rest.
Couples always seem to end up with garish household items bought on sale or when there was no money and they were the cheapest kind. Somehow each couple shares something special with the person they love over inanimate objects that are ugly, but the memories they hold keeps them from throwing them away.
Laundry is an endless chore, something that will never be completely finished. Getting laundry out in time to keep the wrinkles out never seems to work. Socks enter the washing machine like pairs of animals going into Noah’s ark and all end up alone at the end of a cycle - always a mystery.
Holding onto worn out objects is so easy; there are always good intentions to send them to the Goodwill, but somehow they never get sent.
Each batch of laundry is full of mysteries and surprises. When you empty the washing machine it is full of forgotten objects and treasures. Pens, coins, and jewelry reminding each person of the week’s events. Some objects are special and when they are found, take that person down memory’s lane of life events, some far and some near, and other objects just clog the drain.
Each person contemplates what their life would be without their partner. To think of folding just one person’s clothes, to only have one person’s treasures to sort through, to empty to the washing machine, and only find your clothes would feel empty. Piles and piles of one person’s laundry could not replace the emptiness that would be felt if the person who fills the spot in bed next to you was no longer there.

Works Cited

Chen, Rona. "Sorting Laundry." Athens Academy. Ed. Beth Rodgers.

23 March 2007. 1 August 2007 http://www.athensacademy.


Ritchie, Elisavietta. "Sorting Laundry." Perrine's Literature: Structure,

Sound,and Sense. 9th Ed. Ed. Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson.

Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006.