Friday, September 25, 2009

Steam Reassures Him

My husband is watching me iron.
Steam reassures him. The hiss of starch
The probing slide around each button of his shirt
Speaks to him of Solway Street in Pittsburgh.
As for me, the wicker basket is a reproach.
There is last summer’s nightgown,
And several awkward tablecloths
Which refuse to lie flat.

My house specializes in these challenges.
Bags of mail I did not ask to receive
choke the floor of my linen closet.
A photograph of me, holding a baby on a beach.
But which beach and, for that matter, which baby?
A Japanese chest whose bottom drawer has irresponsibly locked itself,
And who can remember where I put the key?

That night, waiting for sleep, I whisper,
I did only trivial things today.
And he asks, Why aren’t you painting?

-- Elizabeth Pierson Friend
reprinted from The New Yorker without permission but with immense gratitude


Diane said...

Ahhh, I can definitely relate.

LPC said...

I always felt this way about my mother's ironing. The biggest scar on my body is from my own attempts. Instead of ironing the shirt I ironed the inside of my right arm. But I still like the hiss of steam.