I loved to help my mother in the garden
Take down sun- and wind-dried sheets
From the sagging washing line, propped up
In the middle by an old wooden pole.
She’d unclip the clothes pegs one by one,
Drop them in an empty terracotta pot
And offer me the edge of a crinkled sheet.
We faced each other: partners in a dance
Peering across vast cotton waves,
Arms spread out, gripping our corners,
Watching each other’s every move
Bringing together the opposing leaves,
Folding, refolding, until she reeled us in
To meet halfway. She kissed my nose
And whisked the bundle out of my hands.
The linen piled high in the wicker basket.
Now I can mirror her with eyes closed,
Senses narrowing on the task and line,
Opening up to the sound of sparrows
From the branches of the damson tree.