We try to keep Sunday best, though mom hates Sundays

By Natalie Burdett


After church, we’d drink Irn Bru,

wipe beefy crisp-crumbs

from our faces with the backs of hands

as mom and dad pulled out the twin tub,

pushed it to the sink to fill,

its whir spreading chlorine’s shock

through heavy whites,

bleach mist making windows opaque.


Our boredom simmered

with the scent of powder’s garden-fresh green flecks.

Their faces reddened

hauling dripping towels washer to spinner,

like drowned otters on the boiler stick –

bone-pale, cracked

but strengthened by hot-cold dry-wet –

as each load filled and drained.


Last, the dark load’s incense and grit

swirled around the space-pattern drum

with soft rinse water – slippy, blue –

gathered a tang of rubber,

splurging the sink through the curved grey pipe,

then a final tipping up

to empty before the washer went back,

a cabbage pan rattling, too, now


mixing metal odours with clean steam

fat spitting in the pudding tray – hot, dangerous,

roast potatoes – dry salt crisp,

a turkey roast shrinking from its paper wrap – meat fat

the brittle smell of the oven’s glass door

and the dog under mom’s feet

and us not helping,

and homework not even started yet.


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