by Hal Dendurent


Washing Dishes

I don't much relish putting them away,
returning them to routine places, stored
where they can easily be found by one
who does the cooking, though reluctantly.

But washing them is pleasure. I mean by hand.

Not simply for the warm and ready suds,
but for the messy forks and spoons and knives,
smeared platters, scrubby pots and pans;
and dainty vessels, children's plastic cups,
plates, bowls, and tea cups, glasses, mugs,
and all the detritus of vanished meals.

Who cares that I must pile them on the mat
to dry them, leaning plates together, balanced
with caution on small bowls, precariously
astride the counter, stealing space, unlike
the neatly ordered load so safely hid
inside the dishwasher?

Yes, that is more convenient, and, I own,
dishes get cleaner. But it's soulless, boring,
everyday. Of course, I use it daily.

But even so I find it calmly pleasing
To clean the heavy mixing bowls and beaters
that spawned the cake, and the gigantic pan
which housed the turkey, and the dish that held
cheesy potatoes that my daughter brought.

For this is what it comes to, in the end:
I wash the dishes for all those who eat.

The Old Man

The old man walks his dog,
leaning on his walker
in the morning cold.
The wan sun
will later dissipate the chill.
He shuffles on and
reaches home,
opens the door,
takes off his hat and coat,
settles in,
drinks coffee,
watches TV.
The dog, meanwhile,
settled in its cozy nest,
dreams outside joys
and wags its tail.

Hanging Sheets

Sunny, perfect wind,
happy glittering leaves,
heat gone east,
it really isn't that bad hanging sheets.
Clothespin bodyguards
save eager pillowcases from a fall;
the clothespin bag awaits a later hour,
when bodyguards return at last to rest.
Worse jobs, and many,
wait a later day.

Border Collie

She chases
whatever runs; and her eerie eye
halts quickly ever gently erring lambs
both black and white, as she is. Frayed, restrained,
they grumble bahs, but she, respectful,
guides them firmly, gently,
with outbursts digging broadpawed after them,
asserting wisdom, knowledge of their ways, and power,
yet loving those dumb creatures, loving them,
she never nips. She loves those silly sheep
she teaches.


Millions of leaves are scattered on the ground;
fall's leaves pile up to test the hapless rake.
Neighbors abjure the rake, and fire up
their blowers, scooting the leaves toward the curb,
piling them up to await the pickup day,
for it is banned to burn them in the city.