Monday was washday in the old days
slaving and socialising at the lavoir,
lines of laundry hanging limp
along the common drying green
or flying, frantic in the West wind.
Anxious watching for those rainclouds -
no tumble drier as a back-up.
I wonder where they dried their coloureds
everything here is Persil white
in pride at brightest whiteness -
or shame at poverty’s grey.
A lavoir is a public place in France set aside for the washing of clothes. Commonly sited on a spring or beside a river, many are provided with roofs for shelter. With the coming of piped water supplies and modern drainage, lavoirs gradually fell into disuse although a number of communes have restored ancient ones, some of which date back to the 10th Century. In my own village the lavoir is about half a mile away, down a steep hill.
Margo Roby gave us a choice of Impressionist paintings to pore over, to inspire us.