The hiss of the steam iron,
the smell of Niagara spray starch,
radio tuned to Gospel,
sultry weather that even the fan cannot dissipate.
The rhythm of the dance;
shake out, spritz, straighten, iron;
comforts with familiar movement.
Humming with the radio,
thoughts wandering beyond the confines of the kitchen,
chickens clucking softly outside the screen door,
the smell of sweet hay wafting in the window.
Sleepy dogs huff on the porch,
and the sun bears down,
cooking the grass to a crisp brown
and turing the yard hard baked.
Meanwhile, the wrinkled becomes smooth,
yards of white linen
gleam and billow as the sheets are folded
into sharp edged squares.
White shirts hang upon hangers
starched into a military precision.
Dresses of faded calico with knife pleats
so sharp they could cut.
All the while, the steam rises,
curling tendrils of hair
into damp corkscrews,
that caress the face of my mother.