Every Tuesday the ritual unfolded:
the basket of willow rods,
Dad’s white broadcloth shirts
stiff with starch, the coke bottle
with sprinkler head attached,
the careful folding of dampened lengths
rolled into long sausages—
shirts, napkins, tablecloths, blouses,
the full cotton skirts in their gardens
of red and yellow, blue or green checks,
Scottish plaids gathered into a circle
on a tight waistband.
Even on Tuesday in July’s broiling sun,
that female figure bent over the narrow board,
left hand crimping and smoothing the cloth,
right arm in long sweeps of the hot iron, pushing
the tip lightly into the points of collars,
the box of pleats, the hundreds of gathers.
Every Tuesday of my childhood
I watched my mother turn down lunch dates,
tell friends she was busy, dodge my father’s caresses,
put away card games, rub her arthritic arms
with deep sighs. I saw her regard the slim board
with a look I couldn’t decipher
while the hangers of fresh crisp cottons
waited for the next wearing,
the first spill, the curl-up-in-a-chair crease.
By the time I reached twelve, I vowed
I would wear wrinkles and
Tuesday would be a day
made for fun.
About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones
Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.