I blink at sky, fiery yellow
this time of afternoon, as I unpin
laundry flapping in an interment
breeze like flags of surrender.  
Clothes have wrapped around themselves,
knotted into cloth cocoons.  I release
shirts, towels and pillow cases
from a handful of wooden pins
I fold each piece before placing it
in a bushel basket, drop pins into a metal can.

It was yesterday the doctor told me
I have diastolic congestive heart failure,
not an uncommon condition, but a note
of where I am on the life-death continuum.
He is a young, stocky doctor with a mind
sharp as a March wind.  I believe he cares
that I am short of breath.

Bed sheets have also wound around the line,
shrouds with bodies inside thin as rope.
I fold the sheets into compact squares, neat
as a finished life.  From looking up,
my eyes are sun–numb from glare, the ferocity
of light.

Finished, I place the metal can in the basket
with the laundry, carry it to the back porch,
and rest a moment on the swing.  I think
how I am at the edge of my life, so conscience
of time.  I gaze out over the empty
clothesline, see hawks have returned, occupy
the top of a cellphone tower in the church yard.
They sit there, patient, waiting, their beaks ready
to climb down the air for anything in which
the heart has stopped.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

R. Nikolas Macioci

R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University. The Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks as well as nine books: Critics and judges called his first book, Cafes of Childhood, a “beautifully harrowing account of child abuse,” but not “sentimental” or “self-pitying,” an “amazing book,” and “a single unified whole.” Cafes of Childhood was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. More than two hundred of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including Chiron, Concho River Review, The Bombay Review, and Blue Unicorn.