My mother hung wet sheets to dry from a rope
that stretched between two poles in our backyard,
her motions smooth and rhythmic as a synchronized
swimmer. She stooped and straightened again
and again, her hands moving across the line faster
than squirrels on telephone wire.
From my perch on the swing, I watched her work,
pumping my legs until I touched puffy
white clouds with the toes of my shoes, the squeak
of the metal chain steady as a metronome.
My body felt light as dandelion seeds, floating.
Higher and higher I swung, until it seemed
I was a kite soaring on the end
of a string. I slung my head back and let my hair
trail in the dirt, closing my eyes so the sensation
in my belly was like the swift
descent of an elevator in a tall building. The sun
felt like warm maple syrup dripping
on my face, and the air smelled of honeysuckle
and bacon grease in glass jars sitting on the window
sill. I opened my eyes as my mother lifted
the last sheet from the pile, with light illuminating
the threads like the hours in a child’s summer day,
too many to count.
Photography credit: Unknown (originally black and white).