My mother’s washday when I was three,
remains perhaps my earliest memory
of home – me, jammed between the sink-cupboard and twintub
feeling its hot thrum run through each finger nub;
a glow of womb-warm in the rhythmic dark.
Hollowed out and coiled in, there, a boiled-white matriarch,
who’d hidden me in her whorls of wet, accidentally splashed
me with warm water from the slack pipes that were quietly cached
beneath; and then the run from tap to tub, tub to sink:
the turning of the spindle left no room to think
of the cold outside and the washing done,
the slow ceasing of the engine’s numb
rotation. Nothing but the loud slap of cloth, the wring of hands
and the drip, drip, drip of the day’s demands
to dry, to be tugged out into the morning world with its cold sun,
the blink, the brightness my eyes spun
into shapes, and that slow struggle that pushed the great weight of time along
with her guiding me out into a cold and cheerless clothes-peg morning-song.

Nigel Holt

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