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Poem of the Week: Irish Linen

A new poem by Lane Shipsey

Pure Irish Linen
a phrase from long ago
woven into those plain tea-towels
that smoothed away wet suds
from Mother’s wedding set

Her good linen cloths
were kept to buff glass and china
or left safely in the drawer
while gaudier prints took on the grime
and stains of daily wear

I teased her for it then,
not knowing the grown-up equation
of good with expensive
And you didn’t buy Pure Irish Linen,
it was a thing you were given

A cloth spun and woven
from flax pulled and scutched
across the border, a fact on which
we did not dwell much, in Dublin
where we never called it Ulster linen

The words Pure, Irish, and Linen
no longer form an automatic cluster
Instead we buy the best fabrics we can muster
regardless of origin
whilst a machine blows our dishes dry.

Lane Shipsey's poems have been published in two anthologies and several literary journals. She is working on a collection of poems under the title Glad Rags