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Other lives, No. 1

Occasionally the man will poke about in dirt; The woman move the dogs' dish To another side, or go walking. Wednesdays They do shopping. But the focus, Strengthened by sheer inevitability, Is the wash. The great daily wash, set out Slapping clean for winds to Suck and toss. He hangs; she takes down And folds the stiff dry cloth. Or she pins up and he retrieves. No variations. Each day, this purification ritual upon The family linen. Mountains Of fresh laundry week by week, Month by month, absorbed into the house Where some enigma -- some marvelous Frenzy of dirt -- readies it for prompt return. Tomorrow: shirts or sheets or socks, Blankly clean, guileless and Frankly damp, snapping at sun.

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