For Susan Lawhorn

On Saturdays, my mother washed
bed linen and pinned wet cotton to lines.
Sun drying, the white sheets billowed
with captured wind. I was eight,
secreted between two sails of a ship
I imagined. I sat anchored, cross legged
on the grass, smell of rich compost nearby.

The sun blessed the top of my head.
My cat, sweet weight in my lap,
the engine of his pleasure, purring. His fur
glossy black, soft and sun bathed. The wind—
all those cascading leaves sang to us in tinkling
voices that linked arms in a chorus around us.

The sheets were lungs; inhaling, exhaling,
filling and falling still. The climbing roses
turned their sweet faces toward cloudless
blue and I followed suit, eyes closed, my child’s
body too small to contain the universe
of love I felt. And when my mother gathered
me for lunch, I could not explain why I cried,
not even when she pulled me into the chair
her body made. We sat until my breath evened,
in cadence with her’ own. My face dried.
Her cheek upon mine, she said, “It’s lovely
right here–
                           my dear, my dear, my dear.”

Laundry Banner Image

Barbara Harroun

Barbara Harroun is an Assistant Professor at Western Illinois University. Her most recent work is forthcoming or appearing in Per Contra Fiction, Fiction Southeast, Watershed Review, and Text Magazine. Her favorite creative endeavors are her awesome kids, Annaleigh and Jack. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she can be found walking her beloved dog, Banjo, or engaging in literacy activism and radical optimism. She blogs about all things mysterious with the awesome Rebekah Buchanan at She can be found at

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