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One of the few things I enjoy about working from home is the freedom it grants me over my laundry schedule. Lately I've been tossing in a load after the day's first Slog post on Friday mornings. The chore lends a welcome, busy energy to the final hours of an otherwise sedentary workweek, and frees up Saturday mornings for an extra hour of Swiffering, or cleaning the baseboards, or crying tears of joy and sadness and growth while listening to the new Perfume Genius record.

In any event, as I was gracefully stretching the fitted sheet over my mattress, the sunlight caught the white bedding in a way that reminded me of Richard Wilbur's masterpiece, "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World." It's one of my favorite poems of all time, and it is certainly the greatest poem ever written about laundry.

You can read it in his Collected Poems 1943-2004, available at local bookstores, or you can just listen to him reading it. But I recommend that you read it on the page first! No offense, but the poem carries a vitality the poet sort of lacks when he reads.

• The poem begins from the perspective of someone waking up in an apartment to the sound of laundry coming off the line. In those first moments of waking, before consciousness truly arrives, when the self feels more like a citizen of the dream world than the real world. In this state, the laundry out the window looks like angels, and their movements are so thrilling and gorgeous the speaker feels like blurting out, "'Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry, / Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam / And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.'" But then the day grow stronger, and the speaker begins to wake up a little more, and "bitter love," which is the only kind of love available to bodies, brings us back to earth, back to the world of gallows, thieves, lovers, and nuns.

• I love the complexity of that conclusion, that acknowledgment of love as a balance of pain and pleasure. The line about the nuns confounded me as an undergrad, though today I think I get it:

And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.

He's leaning on the double-meaning of habit here. Sometimes nuns have those wild head coverings, or habits, that they literally have to balance as they walk. But they also have to balance their belief in a just God against the immensity of suffering that God allows in the world, which is difficult indeed. As a heathen myself, of course, I don't really feel their pain. But if I generalize their belief in God as a belief in the goodness of love despite the world's daily horrors, then Lord knows I do.

• In the video I posted above, Wilbur says his favorite thing about the poem is that he got away with using the word "hunks." He absolutely does. That word has to be there. The diction of the poem is so elevated and elated and up in the air, and then you get to that goofy, rough Dutch word just as the poem descends to earth. The flowery world of phrases such as "halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear" makes you feel like you're in a dream, and then the blunt world of "hunk" shakes you awake. The fact that one word can have such a powerful effect is what keeps me reading poems.

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• I've never really had a prayer before, but next time someone asks me to pray, I'm going to say this:

Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.