A Poem by Sarah Ruhl

From Her Latest Collection

March 12, 2021  By Sarah Ruhl

What are we folding when we are folding laundry in quarantine

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Standing four feet apart,
you take one edge of the sheet,
I take the other.

We walk towards one another,
creating order.

Like solemn campers folding a flag
in the early morning light.
But this is no flag.
This is where we love and sleep.

There was a time we forgot to do this—
to fold with and toward one another,
to make the edges clean together.

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My grandmother might have said:

There is always more laundry to do–
and that is a blessing because it means
you did more living
which means you get to do more cleaning.

We forgot for a while
that one large blanket
is too difficult for one chin to hold
and two hands to fold alone—

That there is more beauty
in the walking toward the fold,
and in the shared labor.


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Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Ruhl.

Sarah Ruhl
Sarah Ruhl
Sarah Ruhl is a playwright, essayist and poet. She is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and a Tony Award nominee. Her book of essays, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, was published by FSG and named a notable book by The New York Times. Her book Letters from Max, co-authored with Max Ritvo and published by Milkweed Editions, was on the The New Yorker’s Best Poetry of the Year list. Her plays include For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday; How to Transcend a Happy Marriage; The Oldest Boy; Stage Kiss; Dear Elizabeth; In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play; The Clean House; Passion Play; Dead Man’s Cell Phone; Melancholy Play; Eurydice; Orlando; Late: A Cowboy Song, and a translation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Her plays have been produced on and off Broadway, around the country, and internationally, where they’ve been translated into over fifteen languages. She has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Whiting Award, the Lilly Award, a PEN award for mid-career playwrights, the National Theater Conference’s Person of the Year Award, and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. She teaches at the Yale School of Drama, and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

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