Across from the fried-egg
fug and clatter of the café
a woman stands ironing
in the big bay window
of a first floor flat.

It’s a wet November day
and the low light and drizzle
darken her room so that
she must come to the glass
overlooking the cold street,
ironing, pulling, ironing,
folding, wide white sheets.

The woman brightens briefly
as light from shaken linen
bounces around the room.
Once or twice another
face appears then slips
again into the gloom.

She finishes a sheet,
stretches her arms wide
to fold it and fold it
then puts it aside,
backs away from the bay
to return with another.

I wonder if the radio is playing?
If the iron hisses and squirts
small jets of steam,
and if the room is damp
with the smell of laundry,
starch and November rain?

At the café’s counter
a cork pinboard
with handwritten cards
offers baby-sitting,
dog walking, bookkeeping,
and an ad from Maureen:
Widow takes in ironing

I glance up and there she is:
arms out, a corner in each hand,
folds draping around her.

Here in a first floor flat
above a harbor town street
the widow Maureen
and Corcovado meet.

Selected byNolcha Fox
Image credit:Andrey Matveev


Marc Woodward is a poet whose work has been widely published in journals and anthologies, and a musician who has performed and taught internationally.

He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and commended for the Aesthetica Award and the Acumen prize.

A New Yorker by accident of birth, he has been resident in rural Devon, England for a loooooong time.

Recent collections:

‘Fright of Jays’ published 2015 by Maquette Press;

’Hide Songs’  published 2018 by Green Bottle Press.

’The Tin Lodes’ (co-written with Andy Brown) published 2020 by Indigo Dreams Press.


‘Shaking the Persimmon Tree’ published in 4/2022 by Sea Crow Press.

‘Grace Notes’ a collection of music related poems written in collaboration with Andy Brown is due out from Sea Crow Press in 2023.

He can be found on Facebook at

and on twitter @marcomando or at