The clothes have frozen.
Pluck them from the lines, garments as stiff as boards.
Careful. Do not break them.
Set them over there—against the wall
where gradually they relax,
take their shoes off
and agree to a cup of tea.
Wet. There is regret in the clothes now washed.
They can't play outside on the long lines.
They must sit indoors, moping,
draping radiators and chairs.
We tolerate their presence.
Clothes float and swing on a breeze,
pretending to have wings.
Gather them in and
before folding them, smell their sweetness
reminiscent of roses
and the blue-green light of June.
Together, clothes and gatherer
let out a sigh.
Windows turns cloudy
from steaming pots on the stove.
Quick! Get the clothes in
before dark descends.
Absentmindedly set laundry aside
until later, when children sleep. Then,
cradle damp clothes in your arms.
Lay them on slumbering radiators
and slip away.
—Catherine Young, Blue River, WI