She hand-washed the bedding and all the clothes for eight,
mangled out the water, dried them in the wind and cursed the rain,
bought pegs from gypsies and a sprig of heather.
In a wicker basket bigger than a cradle,
she bore the laundry into the house,
ironed with an iron heated on the range,
put socks aside for darning on a wooden mushroom.
She cooked, cleaned, did the shopping,
acted in the village play,
venial confession once a month,
Mass and Benediction on a Sunday.
Smoked Goldflake, read The Woman’s Journal,
cared for an aunt, the dog, the cats, the chickens,
and for me, sleeping in fresh, smooth sheets.
When she died, at eighty-three, her tiny body
was returned as ash to lie again with her husband.