The Sluicing Machine

Specially dedicated to everyone who has washed their clothes by hand, not by choice. Especially if you have had a sick baby. I would love a dry toilet, I barely clean my house, my carbon footprint is petite, but life without a washing machine? That would take some convincing. 

Somewhere a woman is dreaming
Of the dance, where she feels
Most awake, most herself, most alive
But when the dream is done, don’t ask

Clothes curl foetal in the shushing
Sluicing machine, my most loved appliance
Daily, to my rescue; I have laboured
Over bathfuls of fabric, enough, enough

Somewhere another family wakes, perplexed
By unfamiliar walls and ceilings and curtains drawn
Having slept soundly in their new home; happiness
Settles swiftly, after the months of waiting

Without a machine for laundering garments
Stamping on the grubby stuff in soap-scum
Is the congenial stage. The sodden wretched
Back aching task is rinsing out, wringing out 

As a child I studied my mother’s hands, so
Creditable against my blank covered digits, they
Could tell volumes, while my infantile extremities
Knew not burn of stove nor cut of knife

Today my hand skin is coarse as dragon scales
Mythopoeia of life burnished in, expressed in skill
Of task; see how I can drape washing, deft, the
Fabric flicked, laid flat and faultless on the airer

There is scope indoors to drape this undirtied
Selection; the outside line is peg to peg already
And if the rain comes it provides an extra rinse
Things work out, like spring follows winter

Chicken in the fridge, pork joint
Airs on the windowsill, life currently is
Feeding me well. Not enough parsnips, but
I will soon walk into town, to top up

Washing, two loads, spun and hung to dry
The laundry basket half emptied, it is
Always mid task, that is the nature
Of the rotational task

Somewhere wakefulness chokes on grief
Every morning will break cold, through the lingering
Adjustive time, while normality does not return
Because its irrevocable change will not be recognised


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