That man, the painter—
nothing better to do
And so, I’ll begin the sketch. She is magnificent–
her sturdy body, and her muscled arms—
they ache–bent over scrubbing all day–
my back, my legs! And still the ironing,
not done. The light is fading. The color, not quite right.
But that glow illuminating her? Our lady of the laundry. . .
yes, I pray, but. . .oh, this basket top-full and heavy.
Come child, give me your hand,
my dear little one. I’ll tell you a story–
once there was a man who painted
all the weariness gone.
April is Poetry Month, and there are so many challenges and prompts! I won’t be doing or posting every NaPoWriMo prompt, but today I’m combining this “early bird” prompt with the dVerse poetics prompt where De asked to write about laundry. This formatting took way too long to figure out. Tomorrow is the start of Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge.
Hi, can you share the link to the Challenge you spoke of?
Hi, I just put it in the comments. He’s also on Twitter.
I love this!
Thank you so much, Beth! I’m so pleased you do!
Here is Paul Brookes announcement and call. https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2021/03/16/for-my-annual-national-poetry-month-ekphrastic-challenge-2021-next-month-who-would-like-to-join-artists-artists-john-law-and-alison-dunhill-and-poets-tim-fellows-anne-arbuthnot-jane-dougherty-simo/
I love this format..seems playful yet so effective in the end.
Thank you very much!
This is just beautiful. Two poems here, tumbled gorgeously together.
Aww–thank you so much, De!
I love the two views of the same scene… if they only had talked to each other.
Thank you so much! Perhaps it’s good they didn’t. 😏
Beautiful poem, Merril. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Jill!
I love the format. Your time figuring it out pays off for your readers 🙂 The poem reads kind of like a “call and response,” not that I’m entirely sure what I mean by that. It seems like the laundress is aware that a man is painting her image, hears him compliment her muscled arms, grumbles to herself of her achy limbs while the painter, oblivious to the laundress’s weariness, paints away, lost in his own observations. The painter is probably lucky the laundress didn’t throw her bundle at him 😉
Thanks so much, Marie! In my mind, she didn’t actually hear him, but same idea.
I’ve seen so many paintings of laundresses that seem so idealized, and I imagined the painters being clueless about what a tough job it was. Yes, he is probably lucky!🤣
This is exquisitely woven, Merril! 💝💝 I can almost picture her “sturdy body, and her muscled arms,”..it reminds me of the times when women had to work much harder when it came to doing chores, nowadays it’s different with the introduction of washing machines. I wonder what she would have said had she known she was being painted 😉
Thanks so much, Sanaa! ❤️
Doing the laundry definitely used to be a time consuming and backbreaking job!
There seemed to be so many paintings that sort of idealized the washing and washing women. I wanted to give her a chance to have her say, too. 😀
I love, love, love this poem, Merril! Thank you for taking the time to do the special formatting. (I’m sure WP gave you a fit.)
Thank you so much, Liz!
Yeah, WP took some time. But I probably would have had problems with the old editor, too. 😀
You’re welcome, Merril!
I heard that about the struggles with WP formatting regardless of the editor. I tend to want to make it do things it has no intention of doing.
The painting and poetry are clever and poignant, but not relatable to modern women with automatic machines. Now we probably feel “faceless” and “unseen” for different reasons.
Of course the art and poem reminds me of “The Irish Washerwoman,” who toiled as hard as Daumier’s woman but showed a little more verve.
Wonderful weaving of words and spacing, Merril!
Thank you very much, Marian!
Astute comments about being faceless. Then again, if I had to go to a public laundromat, I’d be creeped-out by anyone watching me.
I love the format and seemingly two voices, describing the photo. Good luck on your April writing !
Thank you very much, Grace!
I like it … well … once I read it correctly. 🙂
Thanks, Frank. 😏
A wonderful call and response.(K)
Thank you very much, Kerfe.
Very good form and poetry. Love how the painter paints her his own way!
Thank you so much, Dwight!
Yes, eye of the beholder, right? 😏
So sensitive, Merril
Thank you, Derrick.
I love how you’ve shown the two different perspectives here Merril: especially the woman struggling with real life while the painter gets to make art!
Thank you very much, Ingrid.
Yes, though he may have been struggling, too–but nothing like doing her hard physical labor.
Two different and contrasting worlds!
I love the different perspectives. I was just about to say this is a “feeling” poem, and I noticed Derrick’s comment: sensitive. Yes.
Thank you so much, Pam. I appreciate that.
This is absolutely gorgeous, Merril. I loved the two perspectives. Read it, absorbed it, read it again… looked up and soaked up the words…
Awww–thank you very much. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it that much!
I really did.
The context is different but values correlate across time, the sense I took was the lot of my great grand-mother – mother period to the continued lot of women I know today. But so many other levels to engage this wonderful poem.
Thank you very much, Paul.