Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

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Moira Linehan

Woman Ironing

Back, at last, where I belong: on this bench.
Back in front of Degas' "Woman Ironing,"
my washer woman steadfastly at work,

leaning close over a man's white dress shirt,
already the balm of her composure
beginning to soothe. Her flat iron steams

in the steamy room where bed linens hang –
ceiling to floor – before a wall of windows,
sheets still clinging to dreams and sheer curtains

billowing in the warm, cream-colored light.
A plump woman in a dark blue blouse,
ample rose apron – each press of her iron,

rhythmic and composing. How many blues
have been shaded throughout the man's shirts,
one set off to the side of her work table,

pressed and folded, those folds exact,
and exact the starch in its high collar. She reaches
for the next, though surely she must know

at the ballet this evening or the races
tomorrow afternoon, Monsieur's shirt
will barely make an impression, at best will
merely reappear as a smear of white paint.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 80, No. 3 (Fall 2006), p. 54

Moira Linehan