Wednesday 9 February 2011

The Linen Cupboard

Today the linen cupboard had to be dismantled
and moved out of the room with the Black Mould.

And once it was in pieces it was obvious that
the disgorged contents would have to be sorted.

Four drawers and three shelves worth
of sheets (single and double), duvet covers, pillow cases,
vintage curtains, lace panels, embroidered tablecloths,
napkins, quilts, baby blankets, shawls, towels,
counterpanes, eiderdowns, picnic cloths, tray cloths...

four drawers and three shelves worth of memories
stretching back past first big bed, to cot, to Moses basket,
to first flat, to first house, to student digs,
to childhood home, to aunty's room, to grandparents' home
and then suddenly pre-me, into real history.

It was 1941, and a baby, a sister I was never to meet, 
born that Christmas Eve,
 was to be christened.

A christening robe had to be made, in wartime,
from whatever was available.

I think it might even have been
a lace curtain,

lined with silky fabric
perhaps from one of my mother's slips,

and decorated with a length of brittle gold ribbon.
It survived the Blitz.
I am astonished that it has survived my casual custodianship.
I will buy some acid-free tissue paper
and re-store it with the care that it deserves.


  1. A very moving post, Lucille. You have conjured up such powerful and iconic themes from a simple household task..

  2. Exquisite Christening Gown. I love this post, thinking back the ages of our life through linens. I could do the same, and it it occurring to me what a privilege it is to have remnants of our past. Sometimes memories are not enough and we need something to hold.

  3. What a poignant picture of the little christening gown and a very moving film.

  4. That is just a lovely story. All my children were christened in the gown my grandmother hand stitched for my mother's own christening. It is beautiful (and kept in acid free paper as my mother is a retired archivist).