I’ve often written about washing and ironing here; the other day as I was putting out some washing when it was really freezing but otherwise a lovely day, a poem somehow wrote itself. I’m always thinking of writing things but they don’t always make it onto the page, or at least not in the way I ‘wrote’ them in my head. So here are three small attempts, probably poetic writing rather than poems:
It’s ’s biting cold and Mrs Shah’s earthy cumin
floats across the back fence.
The wooden pegs are stiff and rough
as my chilling fingers squeeze them open.
Already the pegged out clothes are flapping
as I struggle to add more.
A sudden blossoming warmth is painted on my cheek,
the sun is coming round the shed.
I’m not cold, though my fingers burn,
and washing out, I hurry in for tea.
(Actually it was coffee and the sun was by the house)
The air is gelid, laden with the smell of ghee and frost
And I’m pegging out the whites
My fingers sting, the shirts have stiffened
The sheets are crisp
In the school field, the children scream and whoop
On the neighbours roof the builders bash and bang
Beneath a sky of arctic blue, frost gleams
And birds sing a brumal song.
(It might be a bit posy to use gelid and brumal)
And then it’s time to do the ironing
Repassage de feu,
smoothing the crumples,
Flattening, aligning the stripes.
Reducing the bounty of the basket
To a neat pile for the drawer.
Brisk forceful sweeps,
Firm pushes into collar corners,
Tricking the pleats into submission.
Fold, align, and dashing away with the smoothing iron,
It’s time to do the irony.