Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"The farm wife hoists the family flag"

A friend read this poem at our women's retreat in March, and I loved it so much.  It speaks so gently of traditions and generational differences.

I thought I'd add the photos of my new "Sweet Honesty" hankie that I found at my favorite thrift store.  I love its colors and vintage charm so much that I'm using it as a scarf for now.

The farm wife hoists the family flag

Eve got off the bus in tears the day her third grade teacher
scolded her for using a hankie.  "It's not sanitary," she said.
Miss Pauley had no notion of what a handkerchief means to us:
reusable tissue, wash cloth, gripper of lids, wiper of smudgy
glasses, emergency bandage, keepsake we carry to the grave.
Peekaboo with a hankie triggered Eve's first laugh, and later she
sat through sermons watching Grandma Yoder fold a flat square
into a butterfly or a mouse.  Now Eve does that for her sister
and knots Ruth's Sunday pennies in a corner like a hobo's sack.
She irons and stacks all the hankies in our drawers
and brings a bandanna drenched with cold water to her dad
who ties it round his neck. Last Christmas she gave me
a set of four lacy kerchiefs embroidered by her own hand,
each with my initials and a leaf or flower to signify the season.
Straight from a city college, Miss Pauley could only count
the virtues of a Kleenex. "Like a lot of things, hankies
grow softer as they age," I said, using one to wipe Eve's tears.

--Shari Wagner, printed in the Christian Century, September 16, 2015


Tammy said...

I remember my grandpa entertaining us in church with twin babies in a cradle, like so: http://nielsonschool.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-fold-handkerchief-babies.html

Seems like he had another thing he did too, but I can't remember it!

faith76 said...

Love your hankie find. My gran always uses a hankie and always used to gift me some lovely embroidered ones as a child.

Jennifer Jo said...

That's beautiful.

faith76 said...

Love your hankie find. My gran always uses a hankie and always used to gift me some lovely embroidered ones as a child.

BLD in MT said...

That is a wonderful little poem--and quite a special hankie, too. We just recently got a few from my great aunt and Matt was remarking on the special, unique patterns on them. More ornate and varied than our modern ones. And so soft.

Also, I had someone refuse a hankie at my house once. They asked for a tissue and I said I didn't have any. Matt was in the shower (and we only have one bathroom) so they couldn't just use toilet paper. I assured him that it was freshly washed. He waited until Matt was out of the shower to blow his nose in toilet paper. I chuckled internally.

Rozy Lass said...

Love the poem! Thanks for sharing. I keep a hanky with me always, and use them regularly for all sorts of things. They can be had for very little at thrift stores. I know because I buy them there! And ironing them is a relaxing task just perfect for watching a favorite movie.

Alica said...

I remember my Grandma and probably my Mom too, folding a hankie into twin babies in a cradle. I wish I still remembered how to do it!

Mary Anne Musser said...

Remind me to ask you which is your favourite thrift store. I believe this is a discussion we haven't had yet. Love the hankie! I have to confess we use tissues around here...

Polly said...

Sigh! I love this, too. I'm a hankie devotee. My father has always had them on hand (I give him fresh ones for Christmas each year, too) and how many times have I wiped away my tears with his handkerchief? Truly special.

jenny_o said...

Unfortunately (for many reasons) I have sinus problems which means I use large quantities of tissues and/or TP (TP being easy on the nose and flushable, I prefer it at home). I love the idea of hankies, though. I can remember my grandfather using his. My hat is off to anyone who does.

Becky said...

Love this. We all still use hankies here and I always have one or two in my purse just in case. (I've been known to pull them out and share them at touching school events where the mom seated next to me may have a little eye leakage).
Love your new hankie scarf.


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