Ironing shirts on a Sunday night



A crinkled white collared shirt is a vulnerable looking thing

that wants care before the week begins again— and on those Sunday nights when chores are welcome company, I'll unfold a murphy bed for the shirt, top up the iron’s water

with the little plastic cup, then wait as tiny lights flash and the iron clicks and clacks as it heats.


Then I’ll fan the shirt and begin.

Section by section, starting with the shoulders

making my way around the body of the shirt

weaving around buttons like traffic cones.


Sometimes I’ll sing, no, hum, as I go

and the iron replies with gentle steam breath.

But when I’ve had a bad week

this process tends to go differently.


I’ll take that same shirt by the scruff,

pin it down on the board and strangle it

by the collar, forcing the hot steel plate

to its wrinkled white skin.


And if it won't conform to shape

that’s when I hiss scorching steam

at its stubborn creases, pressing down

hard with the weight of my shoulder.


After all this, I'll let the shirt rest over a chair

packing everything away, neat,

as if everything in order could control

how the next week will unfold.