After the Ball

Author: Breda Sullivan

The sudden loneliness you feel
when the band plays
after the ball
and you are drowning
in a sea
of swaying bodies
waving arms
while in a kitchen
a child
watches a woman
stir tea-cloths
boiling on the range
scrub sheets white
on a wash-board
in the sink
her strong arms
bangled with suds
and all the while she sings
after the ball is over
after the break of morn
and later in the garden
you hand her pegs
until she hoists her line
of dazzling white
to the sunny wind
a sheet slaps
a sudden shower
on your upturned face
and when you climb the steps
to the back door
behind you
she is humming still.