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Hymn to an Automatic Washer


    O wise God of our fathers,

we love You, yet . . . one question bothers:

    has no one ever quashed

reports that Jesus seldom washed?

    And who can think a greasy

and soiled St. Francis of Assisi

    could cleanly love The Lord?

Shall we imagine he ignored

    those lice between his toes

when he blessed each creature that grows—

    each creature, born or hatched?

Shall we suppose he never scratched—

    though vexed with itching poxes?

Who can resolve such paradoxes?


    You can, God of our daughters!—

swirler of heated soapy waters,

    immaculate machine,

where DUZ does everything so clean.

    Cleanse us, if we have sinned,

spin-dry us, lest we flap in wind,

    exposed to harmful germs.

As every snowy shirt affirms

    with underdrawers in chorus,

a new white Idol stands before us,

    rolling its sudsy eye.

America, thy sons reply,

    Down with the old gods!  Beat

them into scrap, they're obsolete.


    Warranted washer, prim

in they enamel and chrome trim,

    we celebrate thy birth.

Whirl on!  Protect us from the earth!

    Lead forth this Land's creations

and sterilize the unwashed nations;

    O thou, our helm and shield,

launder those lilies of the field!


Richard Moore



From A Question of Survival, University of
Georgia Press, © 1971.  Originally printed in
Harper's Magazine.  Reprinted by permission
of the author.

Background by
Crystal Rose Graphics

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