(Photo: Jek in the Box/Flickr Creative Commons)

You resist when I take you down, refusing
to end your dance with the October breeze.
Flapping, twirling in your many threaded cotton
gowns, which contain the smells of maple, grass
and the geese sound, which blew in
and won’t release.
Stiff, still filled with crisp air, you
bounce from my arms into the pile in
my basket, protesting. And lie
sulking and cold, in denial of
your identity, all the while
believing that bedding has
no worthy purpose. “We’re Linens.”
Until at last, I wrestle you onto the board,
Still heavy and redolent of summer’s
mint leaves, roses, bee’s repast.
A soothing massage, you yield
to the heat. My hand slides the warm
metal. No plastic, no copper, but iron,
wielding it back and forth, as regrettable
rough edges yield like petals.
I fold you over and over, and
with the iron’s slap, slap, your
myriad of wrinkles hover on
the corners and the flap,
flap, mimics your dance under
clothespin’s snap.
Scent and sounds don’t leave,
when I crawl between you,
but evoke your autumn dance.
If I slept alone, you’d hope
to bring me to your dance,
a nighttime fling of dreams
your substitute for romance.
But I don’t, so take
the strain upon your seams,
and relish in the dance which
autumn brings.


Kathleen Vellenga grew up where dry air and lack of trees made clothes dryers redundant. Having lived in Saint Paul most of her adult life, she now cherishes trees, rivers, lakes, and humidity—but a walk down her alley will reveal her clothesline is not empty. She regrets failing to point this out in her campaign brochures while serving in the Minnesota state legislature.


Photo courtesy Jek in the Box. View her photostream on Flickr.

Posted in: Poetry
Tagged: 2010, Fall