Clare Labrador

Mother collects the laundry

in her office clothes and the judge’s

robe held up in a hanger.

It’s eight in the morning,

she is standing on a wooden chair

in the garage we’ve turned into a little

storage room at the back of the house,

walls held up with silver strings

— clotheslines tied above our heads,

and Capiz windows wide enough to breathe.

We both know I’ve been trying

to stop stitching fragments of my future

into this house, pulling each thread

that grows out of my skin

before it twines around the front porch.

Then some days breathe contentment

into our morning coffee, daylight

turns these strings to gold,

and it is easy to see the things I’ve missed

in my eagerness to leave — the way mother

stands under a hole in the roof

the size of my fist, and the way

she hangs laundry in a line — one clothespin

to hold two pillowcases together,

as if we lived inside a linen cupboard

and each room was made of quilt.


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