Des Petites Attentions

Her iron glides with the grace
of a mechanical heart pumping steam.
I watch my mother fold, and fold again,
white edge against white edge:
stiffness enveloping her fingers.

She lays the one for show in a diamond,
brings its lower point up to meet the top,
then repeats the process, her fingers knowing
and urgent in their craft: from corner to corner,
his display handkerchief is starched and taut.

The one to blow is out of sight,
but when he returns in the early hours,
she will ease it from his pocket and dissolve
the yellow of its use overnight:
one-part bleach to thirty-parts water.

She slips back into bed
while her iron sits by the sink, drained
and idle, gleaming in the night air.

2nd Prize, Nantwich Poetry Competition, 2015