Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0165 Ironing - Poem by Michael Shepherd

On the top unlooked-at shelf
of the cupboard rarely opened
there it was.
A tidy, self-effacing, neat and ordered pile
of mother's ironing
- after how many years? -
of those seldom used, worn almost to holes, frayed,
white things, for the house and family:
their worn yet serviceable hems and stitching
ironed with a jeweller's perfection...

and suddenly the living and the dead
were intimate and closer than any sought or unsought sentiment,
and I was a child again
silently watching,
taking in without commentary
as children do,
yet in every fine detail,
a mother's love;
a love simply watched, observed;
not, for a change, demanded
or expected
as a matter of course:

the iron nosing with supreme care
across the smell of hot and just-wet cotton
with a little, smooth, smooth swish,
over the warm bed of cloth and blanket,
taken from their special drawer;
the hand and elbow moving with a dancer's grace.

and I knew then,
in the nose, the nub, of that just-rightly-heavy iron,
the whole love of a woman and her life -
repetition and care, duty, love unspoken -
all the emotions raised by family
who'd never dream of thanking Mum
for the ironing...

'Where's my special shirt? ....M-u-mm....? '

No wonder that so many women hate
this incessant, unthanked act
of holy communion.

And I reflected:
every child should have the chance to watch
without commenting - as children do -
but seeing what they will remember all their life,
in every fine detail,
some to imitate it and remember;

some to find it after years,
on the shelf unsought
within the cupboard seldom opened,
(in the rose-garden, beyond time,
and time past is time present; and the time is always now...)

this act, this ritual
of purest love.


Comments about 0165 Ironing by Michael Shepherd

  • (3/9/2005 8:49:00 AM)

    Very beautiful and creative. I love this. (Report)Reply

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  • (3/7/2005 6:34:00 PM)

    Great poem! ! Such a nice way to feel your loved one still near you! ! I love when people notice those 'little' things. Mary (Report)Reply

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  • (3/7/2005 5:52:00 PM)

    a beautiful poem of memories, Michael (Report)Reply

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  • (3/7/2005 10:00:00 AM)

    No. no, it's you who do that... (Report)Reply

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  • (3/7/2005 5:07:00 AM)

    A big 10 for turning a mundane task into a thing of beauty: -) (Report)Reply

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Read poems about / on: family, remember, children, child, mother, women, hate, change, woman, rose, house, dream, time, love, life, thanks



Poem Submitted: Monday, March 7, 2005

Poem Edited: Friday, July 14, 2006


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