Inspiration while Ironing!

Ironing is not one of my favourite jobs, but one day it did inspire the following poem which was published on Poetry Scotland’s Open Mouse.


Ironing Nellie’s Hanky

One hanky, edged with tatting

lies on the ironing board.

Tatting, not tat or tatty, but

lace lovingly crafted by Nellie.

The hankies I bought for her,

instructed ‘plain, nothing fancy,’

bought from ‘Hanky Man’- there each

week at Monday market.

In Nellie’s hands, they morphed

into gifts fit for a queen or princess.

She sent them too – to both. And received

letters of thanks, on their behalf.

Tissues couldn’t tell such a tale.

This hanky now ironed, lives on.

Nellie doesn’t. Eighty odd years

behind her, over sixty years of

climbing the lane to her house

that was home for generations –

in her weaver’s cottage she spent

many an evening by the window

as long as the light held – because

daylight was always best.

Hands slower, stiffer then

but still nimble enough for lace

tatting. Not tat or tatty but delicate,

full of memories knotted into each

hanky. This one lies here now

neatly pressed on my ironing board.

The Hanky Man too has gone

from the market stall.

Hankies – soon to be a part of

history, gazed at in museum cases,

mostly cotton checked or coloured

and those edged with lace.

Tatting, not tat or tatty.