Julia Goss: Washing

Back in prehistory, when humans were new
and water used only for drinking and stew,
Animal skin was the textile they chose,
just perfect for clothing and rock-calming throws.

Years later, though people had learned how to weave
and fig leaves had passed into history with Eve,
the world was still young, Hy giene was a greeting
and intimate human relations were fleeting.

The Lord now explained (for the sake of mankind)
a new law of washing, quite binding, and signed.
“You must cleanse your bodies and each stinking clout
Remember Neanderthals . . . they all died out!”

The Lord led his flock to the rivers and streams,
intent on reclaiming the tribe of his dreams.
It wasn’t too thorough, he knew by the smell,
and God wandered off feeling rather unwell.

While everyone stood in the water for sluicing
Men noticed something important reducing.
“We chaps can’t do washing; it’s bad for our seed.”
The Lord crossed his six legs and said he agreed.

Feeling complacent, men quickly withdrew,
ignoring sharp stones which the womenfolk threw.
(Even the son God found time to beget
much preferred washing the sinners he met.)

From that time the women washed clothes on their own
and bashed them with rocks in the way they’d been shown.
They rinsed them and wrung them and dried them on trees,
thanking God for the blisters which covered their knees.

Their mates thought a bath once a year was excessive
but women insisted and grew quite aggressive.
The muscles they’d grown had the men folk enslaved.
The Lord shook one head but his new race was saved!

Do our modern times bring a sting in the tail?
Is God’s master plan now about to derail?
Think of the planet! Save our biology!
Down with detergents! Stuff fibre technology!

It’s good to stay fresh but keep things in proportion
and wash what you want, with this simple precaution.
You’ll still get to heaven . . . that is, if you’re keen.
Hell’s only awaiting the really unclean.