Rivkah Moriah
Rivkah Moriah

Laundry on Yom HaAtzma’ut

I’m doing laundry on Yom HaAtzma’ut.
There is always a never-ending pile.
I should be celebrating,
But it’s too tempting,
Getting caught up on a day off.

All those white shirts, favorite jeans,
Towels and a bathing suit.
Dark regular, light regular,
Dark delicate, light delicate,
Dark regular, …
Even at those rare moments
When the basket is empty,
I know it’s just a matter of time
Until a soldier brings home
Two weeks of sweaty laundry,
Or someone runs out of underwear,
Because he forgot to put it into the basket.
The weather is perfect.
Warm and breezy.
Perfect for a load or two.

I still feel hung over from Yom HaZikaron.
I’m remembering doing laundry for a child,
Knowing it was my last load for him.
Taking things out of a box,
Everything all mixed together:
Dirty socks, clean plaid shirts,
Notebooks, sneakers,
Things a dorm mother hastily whisked away
Because the remaining boys couldn’t bear to see it.
In the box I found his favorite sweatshirt,
That I had thought he had been wearing,
And was gone,
But it still smelled like him.
A load of laundry to wash,
Dry, fold, put away,
To stay there, silently.

I’m doing laundry on Yom HaAtzma’ut.
There is always a never-ending pile.
It is the only way we can go on,
After paying the price of Zikaron,
To celebrate being here.
All those white shirts, favorite jeans,
An army uniform,
Or an extra load from a messy room.
It is why we can stand to send a soldier back to base,
In freshly washed madei alef.
Or watch the kids at a barbecue
Getting covered with greasy soot.
Because we trust them to come home again,
With another load of laundry.

The laundry basket refills
Like a fountain of living water.
We do our best
To wash the stains and live again
Washing away a bit of the the pain.
There is a pile of laundry to do
Because we made it to Yom HaAtzma’ut.

About the Author
Rivkah grew up in New Hampshire and has been living in Israel since 1989 and has been Jewish since 1990. The mother of four, her eldest, Avraham David Moses, was killed in a terror attack at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav on March 6, 2008. Rivkah has been writing prose and poetry since the age of five.