The useful life of fabric is set forth as a catalogue of thrift. Toni Morrison in Jazz employs an epic simile that rises naturally out of the thoughts of one woman ironing.
Alice had finished the sheets and begun the first shirtwaist when Violet knocked on her door. Years and years and years ago she had guided the tip of the iron into the seams of a man’s white shirt. Dampened just so the fabric smoothed and tightened with starch. Those shirts were scraps now. Dust cloths, monthly cloths, rags tied around pipe joints to hinder freezing; pot holders and pieces to test hot irons and wrap their handles. Even wicks for oil lamps; salt bags to scrub the teeth. Now her own shirtwaists got her elegant attentive handcare.
Labour marks the passage of time but also the recurring cycles of domestic space for Alice’s thoughts turn to the future.
Two pairs of pillow slips, still warm to the touch, were stacked on the table. So were the two bed sheets. Next week, perhaps, the curtains.
Meanwhile there is a knock. There is always a knock.
And so for day 1310