ALL WASHED UP

By Margaret Hickey


That first night, when your shirt and mine

Were flung on the floor in a tangle

And the cotton sheets on the kingsized bed,

Folded at the precise angle

You had demonstrated to Bertha, your maid,

Ended up as if drawn through a mangle,

That night, our clothes spoke of love.


Next morning, crossing the landing, bare,

I stopped, my heart in a squeeze;

Some romantic fool had arranged our clothes -

Your shirt embraced mine with its sleeves

In a dumb show of loving protection.

We were close as weft and weave.

That morning our clothes spoke of love.


The haute couture dresses you chose for me

The mink from your friend, Louise,

The crocodile shoes and the chased gold bracelet,

I was dressed by you to please;

A trophy wife for a man of your station,

No complaints - I was young and at ease

My clothes those days spoke of - love.


They say the captive bird, though pampered

Will tire of its gilded cage;

But the clothes I chose he found sat ill

On a wife of my status and age.

The crocodile shoes began to pinch,

Their cost beyond my gauge.

My clothes were wearing thin of love.


And so a time of mothballing set in;

I stowed my cashmere vest.

I swapped it for some cotton dungarees -

I was scandalously dressed.

You, in your suits and Gucci tie,

Were elsewhere – least seen, less stressed.

Our clothes spoke of ourselves, not love.


Cliché of clichés, I left a note,

It was best for his and my sake.

Our well-knit love affair was ravelled

The stitch too late to take.

That day I filled the washing machine.

You wear clean linen at a wake.

My clothes were all washed up, like our love.