The Red Tablecloth

Have been sent this poem by a long standing friend.

Thought you would like to see it too.


The Red Tablecloth

I took it from the top of the freezer where it had lain

cocooned in plastic

Spread it across the kitchen floor, a royal carpet

And knelt in obeisance with a small bowl of water

And a Vanish bar, gradually shuffling forward on

Ancient knees as I scraped away the smears of festive foods.

Later, pulled from the womb of the washing machine

It hung flag-like on the linen line, deep red,

The people’s flag (not the Scarlet of Flanders poppies or The Letter),

Sometimes writhing like the cloak of a toreador, sometimes sailing high

in the sky like the Banksy balloon.

The red of pillar boxes, the red of holly berries, the red of Christmas,

it now drapes the ironing board with an accusatory glare

as if it would like to say:


When are you going to press me and put me away?


It has only taken me three months to wash it.


Let us hope that when the next festive season comes

The world can spread its tablecloths again.






Washed on 25th March 2020.

Written on 25th March 2020.

Pressed on 29th March 2020.


Jo, 2020.


  1. Sally Beaumont
    April 14, 2020 / 3:44 pm

    MY TABLECLOTH is still in the ironing basket hidden in a cupboard. However I now realise I did not have a Christmas table! I wonder how long it has been there.

    • Sue Sokal
      April 14, 2020 / 6:03 pm

      Not just in my house, then? 😉

  2. April 14, 2020 / 7:33 pm

    wonderful! i’ll treat it as a mission from you – the blues brothers style, and go hunting my closets for the likes of it 🙂

  3. jemima
    April 14, 2020 / 8:37 pm

    hi everyone.
    i, too, am on a mission. during this genuine “staycation”, i’m drawing up a list of everything that’s good about it. so today’s addition to the list:
    that my ironing can’t talk to me
    that i don’t have a difficult-to-wash-and-iron red christmas tablecloth

    but i agree entirely with the sentiment ~ whether it’s a table cloth or a picnic blanket, i am looking forward to a joyous get-together doing as many of the currently disapproved of activities as i’m capable of, and watching the grandchildren doing the ones i’m no longer able to.

    so please say thank you to your friend
    and to everyone else: happy hibernating

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