from The Good Kiss
The University of Akron Press, 2002.
My mother stands in this black
And white arrangement of shadows
In the sunny backyard of her marriage,
Struggling to pin the white ghosts
Of her family on the line.
I watch from my blanket on the grass
As my mother’s blouses lift and billow,
Bursting with the day.
My father’s white work shirts
Wave their empty sleeves at me,
And my own little shirts and pants
Flap and exult like flags
In the immaculate light.
It is mid-century, and the future lies
Just beyond the white borders
Of this snapshot; soon that wind
Will get the better of her
And her marriage.
Soon the future I live in will break
Through those borders and make
A photograph of her-but
For now the shirts and blouses
Are joyous with her in the yard
As she stands with a wooden clothespin
In her mouth, struggling to keep
The bed sheets from blowing away.
This was the featured poem in The Writer’s Almanac, which is a happy part of my day. It could be a happy part of your day too; if you subscribe, they will send it by email every day. Anyway, one of the reasons I enjoy hanging laundry out to dry is that I feel a connection to the millions upon billions of women who have been hanging laundry to dry both in the past and today. I don’t get that so much with the dryer.