Washing hanging on the line

Wind paunches the belly
of a wifebeater;
blue-black denims drip.
The kitchen drain belches suds
and she ponders ironing
white collars.

Here in the UK, it’s not just an ordinary washing-day Monday, it’s a bank holiday. I don’t know if I’m allowed to call it May Day, or whether I have to use the more diffident Early May bank holiday.

While doing a bit of research on this, I came across this BBC article from 2011 on the politics of bank holidays, which reminded me that despite its ancient roots, May Day is a relatively recent official holiday in the UK.

I’d already planned to post that washing poem, but the BBC article reminded that “May Day is associated with spring and fertility, the sowing of the seeds.”

The poem above isn’t exactly a hymn to fertility, but bringing the ideas of fruitfulness and washing together makes me think of Polly Garter from Under Milk Wood, who said, “Nothing grows in our garden, only washing. And babies.”

Babies are clearly not a result of washing, but ironing probably is. So I think perhaps I should round things off by re-posting the piece which has been referred to as my erotic ironing poem.


When I iron the white cotton shirts, slide creases
from collar, cuff and tail, I weigh the heft and fullness
of a changing power.

The dragon noses mother of pearl, and her hot breath
insinuates the twisted threads which swell
and straighten as she sighs.

My mind spins graveyard nettles, and I
am the sister of swans, accused, condemned and bound
in silence, intent on my task.

Each sleeve, a spread wing, offers hope.

Then he dons the white shirt, puts on
the power suit and quiet socks; he knots a careful tie
and slips his feet into immaculate brogues.

I would be Leda to his Jove.


Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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