I can only reach the line by standing on the metal box that once
held milk and cream in thick bottles. Into my arms the clothes ride,
wheel screeching, the chattering sun playing in the pines. Pull in
the billowing backs, shake, fold. The beginning of so many years
cleaning the clothes we wear, secret garments with odd
cups and openings, something to pull on over our indecency,
to cover the growth and wrinkling. My mother lays them flat,
sprinkles them with water like a blessing, iron hissing steam.
We keep the copper bodied washer on the porch, its snout
of hose hanging over the lip of wood, dirty water feeding
burdocks and dandelions. Inside three shiny metal cups
stump up and down in a pounding circle, amid sparse
suds and cold water. With the wire to the motor slightly
frayed, I sometimes get shocked, pull back quickly,
dropping soggy diapers on the wood. Once my hair
tangled with sheets, my head pulled close to the wringer.
After we move, the plumbing has yet to be done
for the washer, the gas lines still not run for the dryer.
But the laundromat in Searsport gleams. 
If I wanted, I could watch TV there. 
I lose countless single socks, pasted to metal drums. 

One day a woman taps my arm, 
holds my jacket, my canvas bag, my purse—
everything I brought and left on the bench. 
You shouldn’t leave stuff there, someone might steal
it. Easy for ‘em to walk right in, take everything.
I stare at the wine colored bruise
on her left cheek. I want to tell her that if someone
needs the little I have, they should take it. But my
voice folds flat and when I reach to take back
my things, she won’t let go. I have to pull them
free, unwanted anger bullying up in me.

Tar River Review
Fall 2017