She spoke of ironing sheets and said
her children loved to come and rest
beneath linens pressed to crisp perfection.
How I thought her time ill spent!
But now as I make up the guest room beds,
unfurling line-dried sheets and tucking corners
with a practiced hand, I dearly want
to scoop them up again and press
the iron, hot with hissing steam,
to the rumpled edges of the cloth.
I'd carry, draped across my upraised arms,
my offering through the hollow house,
and spread it smoothly as a damask cloth upon the bed --
my children's visit sumptuous as a feast,
their sleeping breath within the silent rooms
as welcome as God's manna and the providence of quail.