How to Fix a Second Floor
Clothes Line

Elizabeth Dolan

When it snapped Mama yelled
across the yard to Mrs.Mac who pulleyed

the new line tied to the old
back to Mama, who untied

the flittered and secured the new.
Then she parted the sea

of clothes, light from dark,
into the steaming water

tossed in a cube that blued it,
such alchemy blanched my soul.

On the ribs of a board she scrubbed
til her knuckles bled and lower back screamed.

After a cup of tea and a biscuit
she ferried the washed to the window

in a willow basket, leaned it
against the S-shaped iron guard.

Like a shoemaker tonguing nails,
she teeth-snapped clothes pins and flapped

my fatherís shirt, pegged it until it floated
on Bronx breezes. Our lives swung

from that line: cabbage rose aprons,
Hopalong tees, railroad overalls.

From my classroom window, I could read
my familyís story writ against a witless sky

and knew Mama was safe until
the weight of our daily lives rent the line again.†



Liz Dolanís first poetry collection, They Abide, was nominated for The Robert McGovern Prize, Ashland University. Her second, Liz Dolanís first poetry collection, They Abide, was nominated for The Robert McGovern Prize, Ashland University. Her second, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for a Pushcart, has been published by Cave Moon Press. A nine-time Pushcart nominee and winner of Best of the Web, she was a finalist for Best of the Net 2014. She won The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011 and the same prize for fiction, 2015., nominated for a Pushcart, has been published by Cave Moon Press. A nine-time Pushcart nominee and winner of Best of the Web, she was a finalist for Best of the Net 2014. She won The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011 and the same prize for fiction, 2015.

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