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Clean Sheets
by Joyce Kiefer

Auntie says I can stay overnight
     when the sheets come back from the laundry.

Why can't she wash them like my mother does?
Let them billow on the wire clothesline standing
     in the cracked black dirt behind her house,
Let them smell to sunshine,
     then tuck them around her couch
     so I can sleep overnight?

You never know what Auntie will do–
      send sheets to the laundry, when she and Danny are poor,
      spend all her money on red nail polish,
      wear a starched white pinafore while Danny does all the cooking.

She picks white Shasta daisies for the table,
      puts them in a black lacquer vase.
"Goes with the red table cloth," she says.

I want to stay overnight,
     wake to cigarette smoke
     and laughter from the radio that's always on,
Stay with someone who tells me lies sometimes
      and loves me anyway.


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