After my mother tosses a sleeping kitten into the dryer
with a basketful of my father’s laundry,
she bows over the kitchen sink for hours,
her long hair hanging like water frozen from a faucet.
She drowns his shirts, twists the bleached sleeves
between her raw fists, like the myth
of the crane wife curling over a loom, weaving
white bolts for her poor husband to sell.
When he discovered her, plucking her own feathers
to spin into cloth, she flew away—
Always we tried to wrangle the newborn kittens,
but with paraffin eyes they wandered under sofas
or woodpiles, and sometimes we found them dead
and piecemeal, the mother cat leaving only
what she couldn’t swallow. At nightfall,
resisting our pleas for red apples she’d be forced
to core and portion with a knife, my mother piles
the still pink-tinged shirts onto the front lawn.
As headlights flood the driveway, she slips her arms
inside shirttails, an origami wingspan
answering wind, answering the whooping calls.
Copyright © 2017 Kristin Robertson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.