Wool Washing

"wrung." Photo courtesy of Juliette Sutherland.


I like to wash wool blankets
in a rubber tub, stomping
as if I live on a vineyard,
the detritus of a year
squelching and puffing
between my feet. I remember
my great aunt who crocheted
them, the darkly churning
water of the creek behind
her house, here viscous, here
hissing, streaked with tannins,
slipping forward, doubling
back on itself. I go to her creek
mentally sometimes, before
morning when I can’t sleep.
I wake up too free. Phantom
pain in phantom limbs. Awake
with nothing to tend to, I go
down in the dark to the creek,
an anachronism with no
laundry and no score to settle.
Up the opposite bank
black cows pump steam
in their sleep, unworried
by the nearness of the highway
howling even when it’s empty.
The cows wake up at dawn
and walk in single-file, kicking
plumes of snow to form
a bony necklace around
their bale of hay. They draw
out clumps with their pink
dextrous tongues. Nostrils
steaming, steam rising
from slick, warm backs.
This must be decorum. This
is what I lack. Some weight
around my neck and a cow’s
habit of wearing it.

Liza Hudock received her MFA from Warren Wilson College and lives in Detroit, Michigan. Her debut poetry collection, Reveille, will be published in 2025 by Flood Editions.
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