Kathrine Varnes >

 

Folding the Laundry I Think About Aesthetics


And the conventions of this poem, for instance,
the meditation pinned against the domestic
as the sleeves against the tee shirt shoulder blades

that never fit quite right but we cram
into a drawer anyway. The way slightly damp
cotton of flannel sheets should bring me

to irresistible truth, the coming together
and parting of two people holding the corners,
when in fact I fold most of our sheets by myself

in a hurried haphazard motion on the newly
cleaned carpet or bed, since he slows me down
with twisting his end in the play of an anti-folder.

I do not smile, except always on accident, to myself,
which is his favorite. Do you really want to hear
about his boxer shorts? Or what I think about them?

We could make them stand for just about anything, you and I,
or consider the sock wadded up in the pillowcase,
the tilting pile of clean laundry on the chair

onto which I will add this listing tower
of like put next to like for easy stowing.
It would be easy to fill each item with body,

mention the socks rolled into pairs that keep
their knees together, the bras that dry in the open air
no matter what anyone says and work it into a metaphor

of love and life together, a dream of the ordinary
poem that makes some laundry magic again
if not particularly moral or worthy of praise.

 

Works on Paper

It's the passion of the rhetoric gets me
The whereas hooking the small of my back,
a therefore pulling me closer—

but the stiffened snort against poetry, well,
what wouldn't I give to impair reason? A friend,
doctor of philosophy,

examines the cartoon bubble question marks
bobbing overhead like birthday balloons.
Steer clear of the H's

she says not unlike a psychic, her hand
held up to push my questions off my tongue
and back down to the heart

where lovers had been alphabetized by the Braille
suggestions of their thin spines instead of piled
up by the bed table's light.

But surely there must be a way to organize
a headache, a Shaker wall of drawers where herbs
hide, sealed away from air?

I browse through gracious living photographs
where a cat curls into a pouf on the stoop
outside the camera's eye

and the caterer reaches down her hand,
tsch-tsch-tsch, tiny quiches balancing
on her wide, saran-wrapped tray

listing, and still the right hand extended, index
finger first, tray slipping toward a boxwood
as the cat lifts her head.