Pressing Matters

My new spiritual discipline is ironing.

Mother ironed a lot.

She was ironing when the news announcer

broke into the afternoon programming

on our black and white Zenith portable tv

to say that J.F.K. had been shot.

I was three years old.

I remember the familiar, cozy-like smell

of sheets and shirts freshly pressed and hot–

steam rising in front of mother’s sad, sweet face.

 

The basement of the parsonage is cool.

It’s quiet and roomy and smells of years of clean laundry.

I set up Mike’s mother’s ironing board to use when sewing

but in recent weeks I’ve started ironing many things:

his handkerchiefs I used to simply smooth with my hand,

pillowcases, our COVID masks, the top part of top sheets

determined to fold over in odd little bits, our worn cloth napkins.

Under the iron, fibers fall in line

a quick spritz of water flattens the fate of recalcitrant wrinkles.

The hot, crisp smell promises all will be well.

 

As if I could iron out the wrinkles in my heart,

the folded over places in my mind.

As if the assassination of reason, the crumpling of decency,

the handkerchiefs heavy with sobs and snot from

demonstrators demeaned and detained by dictatorial bullies

could be spritzed and sprayed and fixed

with a hot iron and steam rising indignant off of sweet faces.

I am sad. I miss my mother.

Turn off the news.

Keep ironing, keep pressing on.

 

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