The Art of Laundry
by Miriam Patrick
It was almost a dance, a routine we worked on
till we had it right, that Monday evening folding
of the sheets, brought in from wind and sun,
sud-scented, warm, ready for ironing and airing.
Then, arms outstretched at her instruction,
Wider always Wider, the living room between us,
we’d grasp the fabric at its distant corners,
pair them together, smooth along the edges,
fold and fold again, the cloth grown thicker
at our every turning until finally, synchronised,
each of us would step towards the other
to meet midway and in a do-si-do unrealised,
we’d pass my end of sheet to her or hers to me,
like a flag presented on a ceremonial occasion.
It was work that felt like play, with laughter
at the many lefts for rights and moves mistimed,
the hand to hand and heart to heart of is with me
even now as I unpeg my washing from the line.