About the poet
Vicki Feaver (b. 1943) grew up in Nottingham "in a house of quarrelling women", an emotional...
I used to iron everything:
my iron flying over sheets and towels
like a sledge chased by wolves over snow;
the flex twisting and crinking
until the sheath frayed, exposing
wires like nerves. I stood like a horse
with a smoking hoof,
inviting anyone who dared
to lie on my silver padded board,
to be pressed to the thinness
of dolls cut from paper.
I'd have commandeered a crane
if I could, got the welders at Jarrow
to heat me an iron the size of a tug
to flatten the house.
Then for years I ironed nothing.
I put the iron in a high cupboard.
I converted to crumpledness.
And now I iron again: shaking
dark spots of water onto wrinkled
silk, nosing into sleeves, round
buttons, breathing the sweet heated smell
hot metal draws from newly-washed
cloth, until my blouse dries
to a shining, creaseless blue,
an airy shape with room to push
my arms, breasts, lungs, heart into.
from The Handless Maiden (Jonathan Cape 1994), copyright © Vicki Feaver 1994, used by permission of the author and the publisher.