We used to laugh about them
when we were children
my mother would use sections cut
from old pairs of my father’s pants
or perhaps I imagine that
she was a child of the war
so buying dishcloths did not bear thinking about
wherever they came from
we used them to wipe the table in the kitchen
before and after meals
and we called them “smell rags”
which we thought was very funny
and every couple of weeks
or (I don’t know) when they got too smelly
my mother would put them in boiling water
on a hotplate on her electric cooker
and boil them for an hour or so
and the smell boiling off them would fill the kitchen
“pants!” my brother would cry
“pants!”
because throwing away old pants
you were using as dishcloths
was obviously a waste of good material
when they could just be boiled
and then used for another two weeks
and then another two forever
to wipe the table.

Today I visited the house
where my mother lies “resting” in the same bed
in the same place
in the same room where my father died
and in the kitchen a small girl
who might be my daughter
is spilling her orange juice
across the table
and I find a pristine white dishcloth
that had never been anything before it became a dishcloth
fresh from a packet
used maybe twice ever
destined to be thrown away and replaced
as soon as it even looks a bit used
and I wished with all of my heart
to be back in the kitchen
eight or nine years old
wiping the table with my father’s pants
and my mother putting out the dinner
and loving me beyond measure
and the future being almost nothing.

On 11th November 2018, this poem was made Editors Choice on Poetbay.com.

Andrew is a Product Designer at https://medium.com/thortspace - #3D #collaborative #thought_mapping #app. See it more than one way!

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