Franziska Hart: The Last Ironing

Posted:  Friday, October 25, 2013 - 6:45am

The mirrored folding doors draw back
As softly as a stage curtain
To reveal the rhomboid space
No larger than a walk-in pantry
The overhead ballast flickers to life
With the help of a door jamb switch
The warm light illuminates
3 yellow painted walls
I enter for the last time.

Above the sink a white enameled sign announces
"Laundry" in flowing white script
Straight ahead and lined up
Are the workhorses of my captain's wardrobe
Hanging to attention in their laundry room stable
Cheek by jowl
Solid, striped and checked
White, cream and gray
Peach, pink, and all shades of blue
An army of dress shirts ready
To do battle for the 10,000th day in 30 years
If only I would press them of their wrinkles
And set them free to serve another day
For the last time.


We tell stories.

We tell stories to make sense of our lives.

We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.

We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.

Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories will be about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.

— Kathrin Seitz

“Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.” — Henry Miller

Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at

The iron ship is readied for departure
Stoked with fuel and tanked with water
She begins to hiss with the arriving heat
A metal clang rings the cast off
To start our smoothening journey
She irons over to the collar
Then across the yoke
That shoulders the shirt's body and bears the arms
Then down along each sleeve to the cuffs, she plows
Leaving knife-edge creases in her wake
The air begins to feel warm and humid
A clean and faint smell of ozone reaches my nose
Pressing onward, my sure hand guides her
Around buttons and button holes
Until finally, she and I can go full throttle without a care
We steam effortlessly over the wide panels of cloth
Down to the shirt-tail's bitter end
For the last time.

Like a magician's cape
The ironed shirt swings wide
Offering up its sleeves to slip into
Sheathing my captain's torso
With his Doppelgänger, Medicine Man
For the last time.

The yoke settles squarely
To support the long day ahead
When decision and diagnosis test knowledge
And delivery of prognosis tests strength and courage
His integrity and compassion as evident
As first vowed so many years ago
Just before the collar folds
Into its well memorized crease
A flamboyant necktie is tied
To assert style and humor
That distracts from austerity
For the last time.

Buttons pushed through button-holes
Tails tamed by the belted waistband
Leave only a nerdy Parker pen
And the pesky pager to be pocketed
Before he sails out the door with two oranges
We will meet again, my captain calls farewell
For the last time.

Franzika HartFranziska Hart is a resident of Camden. She is currently working on a creative non-fiction piece set in India.