Folding a Shirt by Denise Levertov

for S.P.

Folding a shirt, a woman stands
still for a moment, to recall
warmth of flesh; her careful hands

heavy on a sleeve, recall
a gesture, or the touch of love;
she leans against the kitchen wall,

listening for a word of love,
but only finds a sound like fear
running through the rooms above.

With folded clothes she folds her fear,
but cannot put desire away,
and cannot make the silence hear.

Unwillingly she puts away
the bread, the wine, the knife,
smooths the bed where lovers lay,

while time’s unhesitating knife
cuts away the living hours,
the common rituals of life.

London 1946


Date: 1946

By: Denise Levertov (1923-1997)


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