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.
                                                    Spun dry
    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
    in waiting.
                          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.
                                                    But then,
    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.