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Picture 10147994, 1940s re-enactment photograph, image copyright Mary Evans / Simon Roberts

The Clothes-peg
by Michael Laskey


How it had happened they neither of them knew

but it only got worse. He hated the blank

blue ice of his stare and she couldn’t bear

her thin voice telling him to turn

down the TV please, to stop diddling

with that clothes-peg, which without thinking he

clipped to the hem of her cardigan hanging

over the newel post as he mooched past.

It was Margaret at work who pointed it out

and all day it kept on taking her hand

by surprise, a bump in her cardigan pocket.

So naturally closing his old Noah’s Ark

curtains that evening she pegged them together.

A few mornings later it waylaid her

inside her shoe. She snapped it on the end

of his toothbrush handle, so it wouldn’t pull through

the holder, and found it next clipping the ear

of Humph, her venerable bear. For him she left it

dangling in the dark from the plastic light pull

in the bathroom, where he lit on the pot

of Paracetamol and dibbled it in.

It felt like a biro caught in his train pass

as he brought it out to show the guard,

and tugging a Kleenex out of the box

she spluttered at the clatter, but said nothing,

just hung it from the lining inside his tie

ready for the morning. And now the drizzle starts

as she’s driving to work, she laughs out loud –

lifted by it skimming back and forth

riding on the stalk of the wiper blade.



© Michael Laskey, from The Tightrope Wedding (1999)

Picture 10147994, 1940s re-enactment photograph, image copyright Mary Evans / Simon Roberts



Michael Laskey has published five collections of poetry, most recently Weighing the Present (Smith|Doorstop, 2014) and The Man Alone: New & Selected Poems (2008). His first two collections were Poetry Book Society Recommendations: Thinking of Happiness (Peterloo, 1991) and The Tightrope Wedding (Smith|Doorstop, 1999), which was also shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. He co-founded the international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 1989 and directed it through its first decade. He also founded and co-edited the poetry magazine Smiths Knoll with Roy Blackman (1991-2002) and Joanna Cutts (2002-2012) until the final fiftieth issue in November 2012. He published pamphlets under the Smiths Knoll imprint until 2016, and still continues his work as an editor with The Garlic Press (which he established 2003) which principally publishes Suffolk based poets. He was a founding member of the East Suffolk Poetry Workshop group which has been meeting monthly for thirty years. He is a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation.


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