My mother had a linen closet
With separate shelves
for bedroom, dining room, bathroom linens

They were never made of linen, though
Linen took too much ironing

There were three sets of sheets for every bed
One set on the bed, one set in the laundry, one set in the closet

She wasn’t fancy and had grown up poor
She taught me how to do this
But where did she learn it?
From women’s magazines, I suppose
The same ones that told her
How to make her ethnic food more American

I move my sheets from the bed to the washer to the drier
And back to the bed
All in the same day
Bypassing a linen closet entirely
No need for shelves, much less two extra sets

Heaven forbid you should run out of sheets
How do you run out of sheets?

Their smooth, freshly laundered scent
Always makes me think
About my mother’s linen closet

for the dverse prompt of 3/30/21: laundry

12 thoughts on “Clean sheets

  1. Wonderful memories and current state of things and how they compare with each other. I’m sure some magazines encouraged a different set of sheets for each day of the week. Keep linen companies profiting and housewives too tired to put up much resistance.

    • My mother, who came to the US as a very young child from Greece, spent way too much of her life trying to be as American as possible, and never quite fitting in with all the bigot WASPs around us. Her magazines were like a translator into this impenetrable, unwelcoming culture.

  2. Laundry fresh, Xan, I enjoyed the wander through your memories, roused by your mother’s linen closet, and the shift from your mother’s routine to your own, and then back to close the circle with the linen closet.

  3. It sounds like your mother was very well-organised and disciplined! When I was at university, I got compared to royalty because I brought a spare set of bedding to my student home!

  4. I absolutely relate, my mother’s closet is full of bed-sheets to this day. A heartfelt poem that takes one down the memory lane 💝💝

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