Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Two Handkerchiefs

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

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I am stained from use,
from giving crumpled comfort.
Woven from white cotton,
fine-ridged, worn and stretched.
I am delicately stitched,
mended when I tear.

Today, a fresh, sibling square
is placed alongside me,
an intruder in my drawer.

Why does my Mother need another –

with his starched lines, his neat corners.
Sure, he’s blush-red, patterned and pretty
yet too young to absorb sweat and tears.

Still, he might have his uses:
he’ll serve to clean up nose-bleeds,
save me from being boiled,
scoured by bleach.

Mother and her lovers …
my loose threads remember moments
unimaginable to him, my brother.

I’ve been stuffed in Mother’s mouth,
stopped her howls when sweethearts leave.
I’ve hidden hurricanes of manic laughter.

My soft, dry surface
soaks up her snot, wipes away excess,
mops her brow –

New cloth, harsh warp and weft,
stinking of manufactured dye,
can’t ease Mother’s tumbled nights.

My folds trap traces of neroli,
patchouli, sandalwood. I’ve wafted
long on washing lines, my strands, ionised,
taste of sun and air. I am experienced.

My untried brother’s life is untouched,
unmoved by empathy or pain.

When flicked by Mother’s fingers,
my whispers linger, his slick snap soon dies.

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon


Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook was published in July 2019: 'Cerddi Bach' [Little Poems], Hedgehog Press. Her first pamphlet is due to be published in 2020.She is a Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize nominee (2019) and has an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, UK (2017). She believes everyone’s voice counts.