Poem in Which I Advise on Laundry

Cotton and silk can be got up nicely—but
don’t forget rayon. A semi-synthetic
made from woodchips, it washes and
packs like a dream. You can’t go wrong.
My first love was real.
We spoke just once, to tell our names.

Caution: bleach works for whites
but will fade your recurring patterns
of flowers and stars.
There are alternatives.
These days they’re all using optical brighteners.
They leave your life whole, but make it look better.
My first love was a boy on a bicycle.
Adjust your dosage according to need.
It was by a lake.
Night fell fast, the lights were globes
hung in elegant threes.
If you’d rather forget, try boiling, hard.
Some older marks will not come out.
You may have to cover the ones that show.

To keep your clothes fresh,
get a line to hang them on.
Mine goes all the way back.
He stood very still, over his bike.
Like a dog, it had its own expression.
He had one foot on a pedal,
one on the ground, lamplight on his face.
His friends stopped laughing.
Pegs are not costly.
Experiment till you find some
that will hold in a gale.
He can’t have been more than thirteen.
When our eyes met I was blown away.

Sarah Wedderburn

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