Poetry Drawer: Longstack: At the Laundry: By the Meadow: June 2007 by Robert Demaree


The only place it is a mountain is from our dock.
Driving around, I have seen it from other angles,
No more than undulations
In the New Hampshire landscape.
But across the pond it rises
Gently, right to left,
And runs asymmetrically along a ridge
Perhaps a mile,
Sloping down at last toward the big lake.
It is the remembered view
We carry home at the end of summer.
In my binoculars I can see
New A-frames in the high meadow
On the near slope.
I do not begrudge them their gated driveway,
Their view of the pond,
That they have taken up residence
In our field of vision,
Their binoculars trained, I suppose, on us.

At the Laundry

Summers I worked at the laundry,
Money for college. This was in the ’50s,
People still got polio then.
We washed the dingy garments of the shoe towns
(We still had them in New Hampshire then)
And the fine percale of folk
Down gated roads by the lake.
The girls who did the folding
(We called them girls then)
Would offer coarse jokes
About the bed sheets of the rich.
And I, caught, then as now,
Somewhere in the middle,
Passed wrenches to Neil, our boss,
As he straddled the ancient boiler,
Expert turnings of things we chose to think
Kept us from blowing up.
He nursed and finally lost a son to polio.
For forty years I went by his house
And we would recall the ones
Who ran the presses, fed the mangle.
The laundry is gone, of course,
Chiropractors and aromatherapists in its space;
Gone, too, is Neil, my gentle friend,
Who valued me in a fragile time,
On hot July afternoons,
Steamy with the innocent fragrance of
Starch, fresh linen, decent toil.

By the Meadow: June 2007

Betsy Winbourne, now eighty,
Rakes hay in the meadow at midday—
You would not do this a month from now;
Up from Boston, opening the cottage.
No sign of the Woodleys;
They say his tumour has come back,
His fields thick with timothy and clover,
In need of Seth to mow,
If one knew where Seth had gone.
I walk along the lane
Gathering the winter’s news:
Someone’s cellar flooded,
Someone’s well has failed,
Bears in the woods, taking out bird feeders.
And yet:
The young leaves, the greens, the light,
So various, so fresh with innocent hope:
It is early June in New Hampshire
And the world seems possible.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

You can find more of Robert’s work here on Ink Pantry.

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