To have a clothesline and a yard to put it in.
To shake the wrinkles out with one wet snap.
To hold the clothespins in my teeth and pull the line
for little hands to reach. To watch the children chase
their silhouettes between the rows of flapping sheets.
To cartwheel in the grass, tickling palms and bare soles.
To push a swing high and fast with giggles and squeals
in time. To construct kingdoms of cardboard and tape.
To play until the day is dark and droopy eyes
are kissed to sleep. To revel in a quiet house.
To wash a dish the way my mother taught me: run
the water hot as you can stand. To chop and slice,
sauté and bake, enough to feed a multitude.
To give out chores and gratitude. To keep a home
that’s clean and safe, and full of laughter, love, and light.
To plant a garden. To sink my hands into the warmth
of sun-soaked soil. To pull the weeds and carrots
from the earth. To walk the rows of vegetables,
accomplishments that I can touch and taste. To sow
and tend and harvest. And to do it all again.
As I prepare to hit “publish,” Hubby brings in the mail, which contains a postcard indirectly informing me that my former poetry professor and mentor from college has died. This was a man who once referred to me as “one of our better poets,” which I took as a huge compliment. Now I feel that I have somehow let him down by not living up to the potential he saw in me. Once, this poem would have included “to publish books of poetry,” but that is no longer high on my list of priorities. To you, Mr. Burns, and in your memory, I will do the best I can from where I am now.