Cotton and Bone

by Anne Fraser

Washerwomen gather at  
the shore before dawn,
casting out nets of silence
and gray laundry, spreading
beaten shapes across  
stone, hoping for the sun
to rise and crack the cold
that stiffens both cotton
and bone.  

Soon they will gather  
their skirts into bundles,  
carrying out only what was  
brought, stepping through  
acres of rocks collected in  
childhood and shadows  
lying face-to-face in tall
grass.  Sister, sister,
tell me,

How many days since we  
stood and watched the sun  
rise over olive groves and the  
faces of young men.  How  
long since the song bird last
lifted from our fields? We
have tripped and fallen, lying
sprawled upon the backs  
of our mothers’ dreams.

© 2003 by Anne Fraser. All rights reserved.