Sonja 1975
Taking in the Wash
by Sonja Johanson

It is summer, and I am seven.
My mother is still young. We
are in the near field, the one
kept mowed, behind the thick
cape of spruces that buffers
the north side of the house.

All summer my mother hangs
the wash outside to dry. She
does this because we are poor,
but I do not know that yet. I run
between the lines where sweet
bedsheets have begun to flap.
I have never been in a sailboat,
have not even read about it, so I
pretend to be a Thracian princess
in a temple of laundered air and light.

My mother takes down the nimble
clothes, and drops the pins for me
to gather into the basket. I clip them
onto my fingertips, my skinny knees,
my nose. She lowers her arms to rest
her tired shoulders, then looks west
at the thunderheads building. She stretches
her whole self, her full wingspan, to quickly
fold the sheets, before the sky lets go.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age five, Wells Beach, Maine (1975).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine, and currently serves as the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. She has recent work appearing in The Albatross, Off the Coast, and Revolution John, and is a contributing editor at the Found Poetry Review. Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.