The Smell of Dryer Sheets

Stacey Balkun

Something is clanging in the dryer,
probably change. You always forget

to empty your pocket
and I don’t double-check.

Last time, it was a map, soaked
and soaped and tumbled into the shreds

of a place we meant to go. Sometimes
we take wrong turns. But we always

get somewhere with hot coffee.
Last week, we slept on a beach, for you,

familiar, island-born, a coastline
circling back into itself.

My roads resist looping
back to where they began.

In the afternoon sun, you slept
as I hunted scallop shells,

burgundy and gray, a band of gold
splitting the sunrise in half

like a storm cloud. I gathered them
as if taking something tangible

could help me remember how
we fit together, our tent nested

in the sand. When the dryer buzzes,
I pull out our clothes, warm

and static, specked with the white hulls
of ground-up sea shells.

Balkun photo

Stacey Balkun received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, Bodega, and others. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. Her chapbook, Lost City Museum, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications.


Previous: Poetry, “Marking VBIEDs in Iraq” by Paul David Adkins
Next: Poetry, Two Poems by Emily Benton