Katie Finley

She Stands There Ironing

she is still radiant. not radiant still.
unwrapping layers
of paper, removing the bow, flinging
off the box top—I robbed
her of a creaseless forehead
a smoother belly and miles of sweet sleep

today I am old she thinks
fifty candles melting into red velvet cake
my eternity waiting
to be extinguished—fade to black
even if the gray frizzy tendrils are unwieldy and obvious
in a mane of burnt auburn
they found me out
even if the keys aren’t in the ignition—cast in the basket with mickey
and tennis balls and winnie the pooh—
why can’t I remember
even if her hips are broad and she cannot see her stubby toes
even if she is filling the dishwasher with cascade, bending over—
a fisherman gutting his catch
even if she cleans the toilet bowl, knees elbows yellow scrubbing gloves

if you could see my momma, all
kind, beautiful face
smooth coral nails and
whipped cream soft cheeks
infectious, shy smile and the tears in her eyes when she laughs real hard.
then you would know
what radiant is.

and my favourite things are my eskimo kisses
from a woman who is not quite young but not quite old but whose skin
she bites back a smile, her left incisor snagging the skin slightly
her back bent, parallel to the pale ceiling, bent
over the ironing board
she stands there ironing
in all her glory
my nose twitching, barely unable to refrain from stealing
one last kiss

Poem Submitted: Friday, May 26, 2006

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Comments about She Stands There Ironing by Katie Finley

  • Libby Heintz (12/29/2006 5:20:00 PM)

    katie- this is a beautiful poem. I found your profile after reading more of Billy Collins' poems. You have a gift and it's neat that you are sharing it.

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  • Joseph Daly (5/26/2006 12:47:00 PM)

    Outstanding portrait you have created here. The metaphors you use are well constructed and gives the work an emotional punch. 'she stands there ironing' is a superb image, when one consider the creaselessness that use to be there.

    Awesome work Kate!

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  • Francesca Johnson (5/26/2006 12:02:00 PM)

    This is lovely, Katie, a wonderful description of your mother, with 'whipped cream soft cheeks and infectous smile.'

    Love, Fran xx

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