Some mornings when the words won't come,
I go to the laundry room
and fold clothes warm from the dryer.
I fold towels and underwear, denim jeans
and brightly colored skirts. I fold
shirts into neat rectangles, folding back
the sleeves and tucking under
the lower half. When I'm finished, each shirt
is about the size of a sheet of paper,
bulkier of course. And I don't write on them,
but the necklines are so vulnerable,
so inviting, I almost feel as though I had written.
What I write would be a song to laundry,
to the feel of clean cotton and terry cloth and denim
under my hands. I might take a moment then
to feel sorry for the poets who had laundresses,
the poets who stayed at their desks
while their mothers or wives or servants
coaxed ink-stains from cuffs,
and separated darks from lights.
These folded shirts won't last so long
as the poem I might have written.
But bearing the stacks of clean, folded clothes
up the stairs to our daughters' bedrooms
is, for now, enough.