Ironer, by Degas.
It’s not much more than a study,
just shades of grey,
grey bonnet, grey blouse, black skirt.
She is older, almost featureless,
the merest suggestion of nose, mouth and eyes.
Her body bends to her work.
Her right arm, clasping the heavy iron,
is strangely elongated,
as if stretched through time and labour.
Yet compassion is so deftly captured
in brief strokes of fluid simplicity
I must stop, stare and in tender sorrow
think on the life of this anonymous woman
labouring through her monotonous hours
in tired, uncomplaining resignation.
Neil Creighton is an Australian poet with a passion for social justice and a love of the natural world. Recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Silver Birch Press, Praxis Online, South Florida Poetry Journal, and Verse-Virtual, where he is a contributing editor. His poetry blog is windofflowers.blogspot.com.au
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