Ironing the hankies

I’ve done his shirts. Now I’m on the hankies.
I learnt on these. My mother thought I couldn’t harm
the plain white squares. He had plenty anyway.

First you flatten out and heat away the creases,
then fold in half, do both sides, fold again,
ending with a steaming, neatly cornered wedge.

Clean hankies conjure up his optimistic mornings:
watering the plants before setting off for work
humming with vitality, redolent of soap.

Now there’s not much sense in being optimistic.
All that’s left to hope for – a pain-free, sudden end.
In the meantime I continue ironing the hankies,

pressing all my love into worn white cotton.


©Virginia Rounding, 1994

First published in Understanding 6, 1996

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s