Domestic Tranquility

I need a ritual to perform,
clean and sane, for this perfect washday,
the sun burning the top of my head
and forearms raised to the line,
the surrogate wind breathing
my wife’s blouses, my daughter’s dresses and jeans.
I need a formula to recite
free of mumbo jumbo and cant,
as fit for me and this day, and I say
to hell with Kenmore, Whirlpool, Maytag,
who needs Norge, Wards, Westinghouse, GE?

When I strung my clothesline from the post
where the rosebush fans over the redwood fence,
I was careful not to scare the rabbit away,
come to the yard for clover,
crouching on the cool ground along the fence
among the mint that’s grown high as my knee;
it sits in there still and breathless with revelation,
the laundry like sweet apparitions flapping overhead,
my presence humming through the intoxicating leaves.
I wish that kind of myth to give my daughters,
as free of cruelty and lies
as the vision of this small waiting animal.
Today I have only this day so perfect for the wash
drying by sun and wind, and a miracle for the rabbit
at peace under the rose bush.

:: Gerald Barrax, Leaning Against the Sun (1992)

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