The Clothesline

“The Clothesline,” Ensign, July 1977, 63

The Clothesline

“Yes,” she said, “this is my house.”

The mantle’s wood felt dusty

As she touched it cautiously.

“My dishes, yes,” still red with cherries

And green with leaves, as bright.

The table—oak, familiar scratches—

How long since she had sat there?

What months had stolen memories

From her store of eighty years?

Someone helped her down back porch stairs

Into a yard with strange, taller trees

And a weathered clothesline.

“Yes,” she said, pulling hard into her mind,

“This is my clothesline.”

And with those words came dresses,

Helen’s dresses, John’s patched shirts,

And Papa’s pants.

Ah yes, now where was Papa?

Armfuls of sun-warm clothes,

Basketfuls of damp rain-rescued clothes,

Winds full of white clothes

Came tumbling to her,

Those worn clothes

Washed clean again.