Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

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Donnye Romine Powell

After Her Stroke, My Mother Tells Me the Best Way to Dry Clothes

Hang them, she says, in a roofless,
whitewashed structure
with wide-flung windows,
on a mountainside in Italy.
How she carries on (though
she is from a small town in Georgia
and has never ventured abroad)
about the wide, glassy sea,
the air streaming uphill to caress
the garments inside,
the giant bedsheets dry
in a flash and the Damask
banquet cloths ready for the iron
in an hour. So vivid are her details,
that after she dies, I can’t remember
if she’d imagined these airy structures
or I’d seen them with my own eyes,
which was always the way with my mother and me—
she’d dream the contours of a world
and I’d inhabit the village, hauling my laundry
up the mountainside, the salt-stippled air
streaming through me.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Fall 2011), p. 56

Dannye Romine Powell

Dannye Romine Powell is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent being A Necklace of Bees, which won the Brockman-Campbell Award for the best book by a North Carolina poet. She has won NEA and NC Arts Council fellowships, and her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, The New Republic and The Paris Review.

Previous jobs include selling pot holders door-to-door when she was 10, selling dolls in a department store during college, and serving a guinea pig for a psychiatrist doing egg experiments. The rest of her career, including the present, has been spent in journalism.