tea towels

I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by writing and reading poetry, every day.
My goal is to write a poem a day for each day of the month of April.

For writing inspiration, I decided to write from a list I made last month of 30 things that make me happy. One each day of the month.

Today, day five, tea towels.

The first tea towel I ever used was a flour sack towel. The softest, whitest, cleanest towel dried quickly and lint free. Not to be confused with a hand towel or a bar towel, a tea towel has so many uses and a fascinating history. Read a bit about it here.

My mother called them dish towels; she had a drawer full of these fine white towels. She used one every evening to dry the dishes. Before she turned off the kitchen light, she’d drape it over a metal rack to dry for the next day. I wish I had thought to get her collecting them. Just as she did silver spoons and tea cups.

Now I have a drawer full. Some simple, some fancy. Last week I bought a set of four for my girl’s first home of her own.

she called a dish towel,
utilitarian and simple

could be

a coveted collection in the late 1800s

a medium for flour and sugar marketers

a canvas used by Van Gogh

a secret message sewn into a jacket

a place to develop embroidery skills

a tool to polish, dry, mop, wipe, wrap,
cover, crisp, strain, protect, pad, decorate

a tradition to pass down

lives on in my kitchen
destined to drudgery,
draped over my shoulder,
always at the ready
to clean what need be

day 5, national poetry month, 2021

2 thoughts on “tea towels

  1. I, too, have a collection. My favorite one, saved from mom’s collection, which I never use (but should because when am I ever going to get to look at it if it stays in my cedar chest) is the calendar towel from 1960. My birth year.

  2. I finally found your post(s) again, Julianne! This is a lovely one. I have all kinds, but the special ones kept from an aunt who made them & embroidered on them, too. I think they were beloved kitchen things in years past. How lovely that you wrote your poem about them.

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