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Making the hay mattress


The best part of all that was dancing:

In August, when she did the summer cleaning

She threw away the mattress and the pillows

Stripping the beds to ideas of beds on the empty floor,

Where, with hammer and nails she reinforced

The shapes of the wobbly wooden frames.


Then in a new white case we stuffed fresh hay;

After she sealed it tight, she summoned the children to dance

To make a hora on top, to even out the surface

And soften the flowers and grass.


Barefoot, we took dance lessons on the mattress case

Stomped our feet and clapped our hands and laughed.

So it came to be that until she died, each August there were

Days when we danced and nights when we slept on flowers.



[Originally published in NHS 2006, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs06/Bugen.htm.]