Ode to my handmaiden

Pic my own

As tears unbidden from my poor eyes fall
I wipe them surreptitiously with your help
sobs, suppressed smiles, snot; you have seen ’em all
your wee bit does effortlessly emotions schlep
from covering heads to wiping sweat
from the Grecian times to the Victorian and the present
an integral part of dressing you have been
ne’er minding the grime or being wet
luxuriating being doused in a heady scent
often carrying billet-doux unseen!

O dear handkerchief, often your ends I have knotted
to not forget a knotty affair
and when I was foolishly besotted
I did drop you with discreet flair
sometimes it led to utterly dubious assumptions
sometimes I received the response I craved
sometimes you lay in oblivion in the dirt
I rescued you then with chicanery and gumption
my attempts at coquetry you valiantly braved
keeping you close to bosom helped whenever I was hurt

This generation knows only how to use and throw
upstart paper napkins and tissues scarce can take your place
they may be fancy and pricey and convenient on the go
your embroidered and laced appearance embodies class and grace
from being neatly tucked in my school uniform pocket
to your now delicately perfumed presence in my purse
dear handkerchief, I cannot tell you what you mean to me
whenever I leave home, you, I do not forget
through thick and thin and better and worse
you have been my companion, my best buddy.

Written for Eugi’s moonwashed weekly prompt and David’s W3 to Mich’s prompt to write an ode to our handkerchief.

Sharing at dVerse OLN.


98 thoughts on “Ode to my handmaiden

  1. Wow! Beautifully done, Punam! An ode to the handkerchief… how interesting! And you did a magnificent job. This line says it all…
    This generation knows only how to use and throw
    upstart paper napkins and tissues scarce can take your place…

    My mom used to carry a flowered handkerchief in her purse. She would let me play with it when I got bored.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kerchief
    Your name mimics my sneeze
    In dusty dry winter spaces
    As The sun illuminates the dust
    Suspended and unseen
    Until you found an opening in
    The clear story and fashioned a bright shaft
    That fell upon the crack in the old oak floor
    Thank you Kerchief, for that

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You and your handkie have risen to the occasion with courtly (and coquettish) grace, Punam. I love your writing, and your handmaiden! A delight to read.
    (My mum used to make handkerchiefs out of the back panel of my dad’s old cotton twill shirts for us (four) kids . They were very comfortable on the nose, until she began to buy him nylon shirts – luckily that didn’t last long, as they weren’t as nice and soft.) Atishoooo!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. with chicanery and gumption: I always learn something new from you. Thanks so much. XoXo

    “This generation knows only how to use and throw upstart paper napkins and tissues scarce” yeah, this generation! 🤦🏻‍♀️

    Your ode is lovely in every respect, Punam. Thanks for sharing. Xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Handkerchieves aren’t some wealthy people thing? Do you also use multiple spoons and forks? (I thought that was a upper middle class or wealthy thing).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m very middle class and I’ve never seen them used in my life (unless at a hokey-poke restaurant like Olive Garden) 🤨 Even by older people. Most people here use paper towels and napkins and when they’re eating much more nastier objects, they’ll use the restaurant handkerchiefs (if they’re not nasty) and will put it in a bib or on their lap or use wipes or a towel to get sauce off their hands.

        There’s people that come in that are old in some of the places and young that don’t have handkerchiefs.

        Now, at home, usually we use towels and rags…but those don’t leave the house. 😕

        Paper doesn’t have plastics (or shouldn’t have plastics) so they’re pretty recyclable and biodegradable so they can be used (if of quality) more than once for a similar mess.

        I use paper towels to hold my watercolor leftovers and they can be used until the watercolor starts lifting off.🤷🏾

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Paper napkins are biodegradable but so many trees are felled to make them. Handkerchieves are still used by a lot of people. The only problem is that they need to be washed and ironed so people use paper napkins.
        Fine dining restaurants still use cloth serviettes/napkins but fast food joints use paper napkins. But those are not handkerchieves.
        We do use paper napkins at home sometimes but prefer towels where possible. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I understand that, but there’s many ways to get paper from trees without cutting them down. There’s so many agricultural scientists that have improved their technologies to grow more trees and not cut down the whole tree.

        It’s also a lot better than clearing land for cotton fields or using chemicals to make other fabric forms (which are funnily still expensive). Unfortunately nowadays, handkerchiefs and napkins from companies today still have unnecessary chemicals in them.🙄

        I guess still are both better than nothing.☺️ I think you can also make something of a handkerchief with cotton yarn with crochet or similar. I wanted to do that, but I only have acrylic yarn.🤮

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Of course! With the help of technology things are improving.

        But we are talking about a small cotton square cloth used for wiping sweat or runny nose. And not necessarily store bought! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. 😂 Most people don’t know how to sew, knew, crochet, or do similar. Are your handkerchieves not storebought or do you pick the cotton, (steps in between) chop it into stuff, and make it into a handkerchief or do you buy fabrics and just cut them up? (I mean, people do that with canvases so that would make more sense.)

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes, most people don’t. For my husband I buy readymade hankies. For myself and kids I buy fabric and make. Sometimes I embroider and put a lace around, sometimes it is a plain piece of cloth. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Punam, you are a true wordsmith and the queen of WP prompt. I am truly honored to have you write such amazing ode for my prompt. The way you played with the words, the line drops, the stress, and most importantly the story telling – truly a work of a genius poet.

      And oh, i should mention too that it was so thoughtful and brilliant of you to end this ode with raising awareness on the use of the tissue paper which is not good for our environment, versus the hanky.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mich, I am humbled by your compliment! How could I not try to write my best for your lovely prompt! ❤️I am delighted that you like it. Thank you so much for your generous praise. 🙏🏼❤️🌷💖

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Very good. As nowadays tissue paper replaced the handkerchief and plastic bags replaced baskets and cloth bags. How pollution increased by all stuff and yes the pampers replaced the cloth neckers. We use disposable items which are not easily despised and make pollution all over the earth emotions replaced showoff gestures. World is changed inadequately.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Not a trace of snot in sight! You had me so baffled at first, ha ha! 😀 I was like: oh, something must have happened to Punam’s handmaiden cause she’s clearly the type of lady who has one! Then I realised it was an ode to your handkerchief 🙂 Such a fun read ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. luxuriating being doused in a heady scent
    often carrying billet-doux unseen!

    A handkerchief doused with perfume and wrapped within a love letter an act close to the heart! Great wordcraft Punam!


    Liked by 1 person

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