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.