Hanging Out the Washing

By John Grey

A woman hangs her laundry on a line
On Saturday, in rancid clinging heat,
It’s spread shirt by arms, peg to wire, repeat
The exercise, and not one welcome sign
Of gratitude; the ritual obsolete
In the age of washer-dryers, her feet
Complaining to her sore and tetchy spine.

She pins her own form to that waving wire,
So little shape, the barest filigree,
Crippled, empty, in thrall to wind’s desire
And no one else’s, certainly not he
Whose t-shirt flutters least of all, his fire
As pallid as that cotton effigy.