Susan Donnelly: "Mrs. Maher's Iron"




Heavy, this old blackened

triangle, bringing to mind

the gigantic labors of wash day,

and the frail woman who’d visit

your mother, how her hands

must have hefted this, pressed

forward, set it down a moment,

raised and reheated it—

an expedition around collars,

the wrinkles at each button

like those at her squinting eyes,

the journey down a sleeve

a tracing back to her wedding day

in 1890 when she and Mr. Maher

took a coach—imagine!—from

the church to the reception.

A fine day that, when her wrists

were strong, and the ring

fit her finger.  Now she lived,

long widowed, in one room

on the Old Age Assistance,

and glad enough to visit

the kind neighbor who’d set out,

always, a sandwich with the tea.


Susan Donnelly's chapbook of poems about childhood, Sweet Gooseberries, is published by Every Other Thursday Press.  She is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Capture the Flag, as well as three other chapbooks.