Pressing on

M.E. Hope
Vertical photo of an iron on an ironing board and T-shirt.
Photo by Filip Mroz

My grandmother taught me to iron
how to bend and shuffle a blouse
around the ironing board’s broad nose
how to insinuate the heat and steam
into a ruffled edge, hold down a pleat,
tame a collar. Lesson coveted at boot
camp as we set to perfect creases
and seams. The marks were complicated
enough, but once pressed in, a dungaree
shirt became a recruit’s dream. Each
item of clothing had a required fold, 
a set spot on the locker’s shelf, a line
on the edge and the lip. Each folding
was origami-like in perfection and with
each practice, the time and the finished
garment, closer to a work of art. Those
few of us with the patience and practice
were given space, like old-world artisans 
at some sacred skill and I laughed
as we practiced it, this woman’s work,
this mundane, mindless craft.

M.E. Hope currently lives and writes in Belgium. A recipient of a Fishtrap Fellowship, Playa Residency, and Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission, she spends her days watching the amazing Belgian Blue cattle and searching for the perfect cheese.