Someone has washed this canvas one too many times.
Daylight is peeking through now and these
washerwomen have decided to call it a night.
Gently the first releases the hot iron
from her red hands and her bunched shoulders
ease at last beneath their bleached pink linen.
It’s time to go home – 1880
is long ago and her companion
completes a full-mouthed yawn and lets the bottle
break from her hand.
lifts his head to see his angles changing
and smiles, sketching again. An ochre shawl
is knotted at the back as the last work
is folded and they leave the chalk-filled room:
two drab skirts with blouse and ochre shawl.
John Claiborne Isbell
John Claiborne Isbell was born in Seattle, USA and later lived in Europe and the United Kingdom, where he went to school. He has been teaching languages for some time, teaching French and German at universities in the United Kingdom and the United States. He has published various books, including a volume of poetry, Allegro, with a picture of a cello on the cover. His wife is Margarita and their son Aibek is 31.
The Ekphrastic Review
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