I absolutely love how this author compares something as simple as a towel to life and its simplicities. Life should be simple, and the smallest or seemingly insignificant things have a purpose. Sometimes, those small things have a bigger purpose than we can readily see. I honestly wish I had a bit more to say about this poem, but I just don’t. I love the simplicity of it, the use of a common household item as symbolism for something much bigger. Yet, it’s also open to the reader’s interpretation. Bravo, Mr. Hazo, bravo.
by Samuel Hazo
What purpose have they but to rub
skin dry by being drawn behind
the back two-handed down
the showered spine or fluffed
between the thighs and elsewhere?
Yardgoods lack what towels
proffer in sheer, plump tuft.
Wadded after use and flung
in hampers to be washed, they clump
like the tired laundry of men
who sweat for a living.
or spreadeagled to the sun,
they teach us what renewal means.
Touch them when they’re stacked or racked,
and what you’re touching is abundance
Imprinted with the names
of Hilton or the Ritz, they daub
with equal deft the brows
of bandits or the breasts of queens.
What else did Pilate reach for
when he washed his hands of Christ
before the multitudes?
when retired to the afterlife of rags,
they still can buff the grills
of Chryslers, Fallingwater’s windows
or important shoes.
small, it seems they have
their part to play.
en route from use to uselessness,
it’s no small asset ever
to be always good at something.
“Towels” by Samuel Hazo from The Song of the Horse. © Autumn House Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission.