The Countess

by Nicky Kippax

i.m. our Hotpoint ‘Countess’ washing machine (1978-1989)

Quick prayer to her dangerous bulk
          wheeling centre-stage – spare us

before this moaning, juddering beast – boasting
          one angry nipple to pluck and twist

slivers of school uniform – mangles
          batches through her snatching mouth,

suds seething from shirts and skirts,
          buttons and poppers crushing flush.

Her agitator spindle and twelve-inch roller
          imply a washer of sensible capacity

but sometimes our clothes just aren’t scrubbed enough –
          they cry out for another sickening spin

on this un-merry-go-round of Lost Sundays:
          my sister and me – damp, foamy and straining

for the squeals of our playmates
          or peals of a two-o’clock ice-cream van –

Greensleeves to score the Countess,
          glorious in her scent of hot rubber.