Fitted sheets were not in vogue when my mother
made her bed all those thousand times
the bottom sheet and the top identical.

Now when I make my bed I find the words
for explaining the fitted sheet in my head
and the elastic that holds it taut.

Isn’t it an advantage, I say – I see
her sceptical look – that the edges are fixed
whether you sleep alone or in pairs

and your portion of the sheet is inviolate?
She says nothing, just a long slow look.
It will be more difficult to fold for the linen press

where she tied her sheets with ribbons.
So often I received her wisdom and never
defended myself. What could I say

to one who knew more, was quick about everything,
that a bed should be aired for hours
because it contains bacteria and moisture

but this sheet I want to give her, to lie
down on, as taut as a sail
on a night voyage, in starlight and moonlight.

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