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Fairy Tale

I'm fourteen, ironing my father's shirts.
I am his handmaiden, chosen.
At the probe of my iron, the odor of starch
rises from collars, plackets, cuffs
to fill the farmhouse, the yard, the shed.
Glistening, smooth as new skin,
the shirts swallow their hangers,
wait for my father's touch.
He chooses one,
slips it on like a knight his armor,
bows to garland me with orchids ...
He's late for the night shift
at the chicken plant,
brushing past me without a nod.
Then silence, that brown noise.

Jo McDougall

Southwest Review

Volume 102, Number 1

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