Laying the Cloth, et cetera
Each day you understand a little more 
your place here. Your face: a pious 
landscape. You listen for the bell’s double  
ding-a-ling through the hallways 
like a call to worship.  
Hands fold like napkins. Lips hold  
together with a stitch. Gradually, you learn  
to starch your collar high 
and tight, know the moment before  
the moment a guest turns to go, to swing 
imperceptibly with the door. What  
a long hinge the body makes.  
Day and dark depend on preparation,  
laying the cloth according to the hem 
and fold, the flower basket or family 
coat of arms facing always  
up the table. After dinner, you dig coal  
from your chest with a grapefruit spoon  
and your eyes scour twenty  
dirty plates. The black herd 
of boots return, tracking in the sand 
and snow you sweep out hourly. If you keep 
this up, someday your soul will be  
handsomely arranged as the pantry.  
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