, , ,

Not in winter when ice
froze cotton to pins and the hands
turned ruby, raw with ache
from the chill,

but in autumn and spring,
and especially in summer
when the sun was ceding
to squall.

When the wind whipped the sheets
into great cracks and pops
and all of us ran
to bring the laundry in

before the first pelting rain
could fall. The smell of towels
fluffed with fresh air, and linens
wearing nature’s perfume,

even my father’s rough jeans…
The remembered scents of clothes
on the line recall the excitement
of outrunning the storm.

Come December, I’m ever so glad
for my dryer, but even then,
when I’m feeling too fragile
to hang clothes out on the line,

I reach for a random pin
and give it a face, red trousers,
black boots,  a trace of gold
for buttons and brass,

then I add it to the growing battalion
of soldiers consigned to a shelf,
nevermore to pin clothes
on the line.