Black Sheets

by Judi Schepka

I remember watching in a dismal state of acceptance
as they danced seductively in glistening new wetness,
revealing everything and yet nothing of what really
took place within the confines of their cotton breeding;

delicate folds of perma-press colors that matched
boudoir walls and bourgeois moods of disillusioned
incurious inhabitants.  I remember smelling their false
freshness – a sweet cleanliness-is-next-to-Godliness scent

that dripped relentlessly onto sprouts of thirsty grass
like crystal blood-drops of human frailty wringing
out the workingman’s sweat and stress dissolved
in a rinse cycle of Downy softness and hard water.

I remember waiting for the inevitable appearance
of the steel-milled demon who silently draped its
blanket of black-sooted spite over yards of pinned
down coverings, leaving behind the soft powder

of doomed lungs desperate to rise above the
middle-class label, but too naïve to realize
that there was no escape, no last-minute reprieve,
no unspoken promise of a better life beyond the
black sheets.

Judi attended YSU late in life, and received her BA in English in 1999 at the age of 46 while dealing with third-stage colon cancer.  She received her MA in English in 2001, and her MS in Criminal Justice in 2004.  She was awarded the Robert R. Hare Award for a small chapbook, the Robert R. Hare Award for Best Journalism Writing, Poem of the Year 2000 in the Penguin Review, and numerous poems published in the Penguin Review from 1995 to 2001.

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