Mother's wiry fingers pulled
water from a bowl, flicked it
across a shirt, another, an apron.
She rolled each piece into damp fists.
I ironed the handkerchiefs—in half,
in half, in half again—standing on a box.
The geometry of the task healed loneliness.
When I no longer needed the box
I ironed my mother's cotton blouses,
the cut-work tablecloth she spent
two winters at, my father's dress shirts,
skirts with box pleats.
What chore was this—so elemental—
water, fire—no chore at all.
Athena Kildegaard has had work appear in Faultline, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry East, Puerto del Sol, Cream City Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Her first books are Rare Momentum and Bodies of Light (both from Red Dragonfly Press) and Cloves & Honey (Nodin Press).