Topher Allen

The Migrating Aroma of Bleach

Saturday mornings are for the migrating aroma
of bleach, blue soap and fabric softener.
For buckets balanced perfectly on the head,
sunlight glistening on the black lake

of a boys back. For trips to a standpipe
meant to service a district
of women who sit with folded frock-tails
to scrub sweat and secrets from garments.

Saturday mornings are for clothes-pins
and how they open their jaws and bite
the collar of shirts, secure to clothes-line.

For bath towels frolicking in the backyard
like children, the miracle of pants walking
in the air.

Saturday mornings are for the way the belly
of bedspreads bulge
when they swallow the breeze.


Topher Allen is a poet and fiction writer from Clarendon, Jamaica. His work explores sexuality, mental health and Jamaica’s cultural and historical experiences. He is an Obsidian Foundation Fellow whose work appears in Montreal Writes, Pree, Poetry London, Magma, Ambit and elsewhere. Allen won the Poet Laureate of Jamaica: Louise Bennett-Coverley Prize for Poetry in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Bocas Emerging Writers Fellowship and the BCLF Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean in 2022.

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