What I did last summer
I watch the old woman next door,
her sheets flying kites
tethered to a wire clothes line.
She leans against a rusty pole,
single clothespin in her mouth,
pauses to consider linens hung to dry
on summer afternoons.
Dripping air in dry skies, sweat,
iced watermelon, banjo and fiddles
on a front porch, old men in overalls,
kids with no shoes, the growl of a lawn mower.
I never hang sheets out to dry
they smell like dirt
like a fresh-dug grave.
Naked inside cocoon clothing,
she believes the layers impregnable
and strides into traffic, zig, zag,
bounces from one near accident
to another until exhausted
in the middle of the highway
just to watch
red Mustangs and white
Suburbans and Cadillac limousines —
taffy stretched over turning wheels —
blackened windows holding grief —
boxes of bones, naked beneath handfuls
of dust to dust, ash to ash.
She remains in the middle of the highway
not seeing danger.