In the days before washing machines,

Mother kept our clothes scrubbed

wash-board clean, hung up on a line

in size places—bloomers lead the way.

When I was a kid I thought big bloomers

were a pirate’s flag, billowing in the wind.

I wanted to paint a skull and crossbones

on them to keep the enemy at bay.

As I grew older, I was embarassed

about Mother’s increasing heft

after giving birth to 3 sons.

I’d hear my parents giggle in bed,

and wondered what could be going on

after finding a stash of Father’s photos —

freckled-faced Irish beauties

who worked in his typing pool

and shopped for skin bikini panties

before Victoria’s Secret even existed.