END OF SEASON
Washed and dried, my laundry smells “Spring Fresh,”
but to touch, it’s cooling, like autumn.
I fold tank tops, T-shirts, shorts. And last, the yellow sleeveless
button-down I wore over my bathing suit (like the tan, form-
fit model in the mail-order catalogue, who
sat on the sand while the others swam).
Fastening every other shirt button in the row,
I admire the straight and even
stitches that hold the body together. No
loose ends. I spread this vestige of my last summer, face down
on the table, and while ironing
its lifeless, limbless back with flat, heavy palms,
let the illusion of reverse aging
materialize, the wrinkles
disappear. Like a soldier folding the flag,
I fold the shirt lengthwise,
from right shoulder to hip: the margin
narrows like the doctor’s prognosis.
Along the left fold, the breast pocket outlines
the mastectomy site. The final fold cuts
across the width, where the latest CAT scan
reports increasing tumor activity. The folded shirt goes with the rest,
face up in a storage box that smells of cedar, like a casket.
—from Rattle #25, Spring 2006
Tribute to the Best of Rattle