Towels at Sunset: Winner, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

They must bear no stain,
they must come perfect


from the dryer–cotton
fresh from Turkey, bright


olive stripes, or amber
ones, or blue.  They must bear


no crease, must take the folds
from my hands obediently,


tags tucked underneath them
like the legs of calves,


as meek as sheep.  They
must limn the linen chest like poppies,


coral and gold, or else the pale green I like
in bowls of roses on the table, or


the blue of hydrangeas, a bit
mysterious, shadowing the wood


when I open the doors.  They must
conform, conform now to my vision


of perfection, because my father
would wipe himself with one


when he was done with me,
and I remember.  Love,


when I see you again,
will you forgive my trespasses?


I am hell to live with for a reason.


Robin Kozak was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Wyomissing, a bedroom community outside Reading, Pennsylvania.  She received degrees from Ohio University and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, and her poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Field, The Gettysburg Review, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Witness, and other publications.  An authority on antique and estate jewelry, she has also recently completed a novel, The Kingdom It Would Be.