John Sloan, Sun and Wind on the Roof
The Drying of Sheets in the Wind
When the world seems in a mess and you wax sanctimonious,
railing at the ills of those who make it less harmonious,
remember that life’s curses are only temporary.
When world events eat at your mind and the world feels scary,
remember bed sheets on the line, drying in the sun—
the sound of flapping in the wind as their drying was done.
The smell of bright clean sunlight on each wind-softened fold,
or the cracking of their ice crystals stiffening in the cold.
Remember their warmth around you, fresh from mother’s mangle?
Snapping them out in the air, her bracelets’s harmonious jangle?
Her even movements folding them, then spreading them once more
for you to slip into your bed as she stood at the door,
storybook in hand for that nightly big procession
through story after story, read in that grand progression
of venturings into a world that seemed so vast and magic,
long before you knew the world to also be so tragic.
Let memories of your mother still be a comfort to you—
with memories of fresh white sheets. And let them both renew you.