Souvenir Tea Towels


You find them in historic towns.
Market stalls stock them.

Usually cotton or polyester,
the best ones, pure linen.

They're covered in cathedrals,
adorned with flags and standards.

Else give college crests and dates
for the educating tourist.

The prettiest are pin-ups,
everyday ones kept in drawers.

Understudies for oven gloves,
midwives delivering cakes.

Newly starched, they do the job,
get to grips with the bit you missed.

Job done, they’re hung on hooks
or straddle radiators, spiny and stiff.

Their elaborate designs soon fade.
They wear thin, their edges fray.

Paul Stephenson

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Paul Stephenson
would be pleased to hear them.