|And they of course not knowing
that dreams were being rinsed out beside them
sat waiting for red lights and signs
and cups of soap powder,
while the sheets I had held you in
had you washed out
silently, while more lights flashed.
I began to know the rhythms
of the clothes as embryo-like, they
wound into each other, became
a hot snowball of cloth, slithering
round behind glass, round
like falling angels or
Second cupfuls brought the sea
waves dashing high against
the window, spray reaching the
And for us, no sea.
into a white wall hiding
the clothes from me.
Blankness, all washed out and hidden.
The you inside the window
It's too late to drag them out and ask for my
money and dirt back, for wanting the hot white
sheets and our electric moments.
Tenderly I dried them in the cabinet
and took them home,
warm like new bread,
leaving the others to watch their dreams
slowly murdered into whiteness
for new surgical beds.
|This is the poem referred to on page 137 of Ian McEwan's "Saturday", where "Yes, a little-known but gifted poet, Pat Jourdan, a woman of the Liverpool School had written up a similar idea in the sixties - the end of the affair, the spinning sheets at the launderette displayed before the thoughtful poet. John was saying, he wasn't accusing Daisy of plagiarism, she may have read the poem and forgotten about it, or simply reinvented it for herself. After all, it wasn't such an exceptional or unusual idea, but either way..."
This poem was also included in Borestone Mountain poetry Awards 1969 "Best Poems of 1968"
It was included in Over to You, ed Norman Hidden, English Speaking Board1975
It was chosen by Roger McGough for Strictly Private, Kestrel Books 1981 and Puffin Books 1982, 83, 84.
It was chosen by a drama student for her examination piece, 2014 in Wales.