The Tea Turned Cold – VII

Please note the seventh part of an essay at POLITICS .

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work


There are many impressive novels about humble women’s lives in former times, written both at the time and since, written by both women and men. Thomas Hardy’s Tess, a farmhand, toils in the field as if in a chain gang; Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, a seamstress, languishes at the workshop into the night; Claire Etcherellli’s Elise, a factory worker, rushes and sweats at the conveyor belt.

They all get exploited; they all get exhausted. Yet none of these women seems to wash any sheets by hand on top of that; none of them is seen heaving pots of stew around; none of them does as much as sweeping the floor of her dwelling. When a girl has a baby, someone has to care for it, but no one seems to boil and mash food or soak and scrub linen for it. It all gets done by itself.

It all gets done magically. It all gets done in the wings. The never-ending chores are performed by invisible girls and women; by hands which get worn over the years without ever receiving a penny in return; by hands presumably too busy to drink the cup of tea turning cold in the cup.

Read more here.

Woman with apron filling plates with roast and many different vegetables.Woman worker “during her “time off”:
“not working”  while cooking
&”not working” while writing.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2015.


Westminster Bridge, Mitte März

Westminster Bridge, Mitte März

Im Überfluß hingeschüttet, schimmernd
und erstmals wieder erquickend
der Sonnenschein, und schon erstreckt sich
aus silbernen Plättchen gehämmert
das Straßenpflaster, entrollt sich
die hellblaue Teppichbahn
des Stromes, schon stemmen sich,
stumme starke Löwenflanken,
die Brückenpfeiler empor, ragen
lotrecht die Honigwaben
der Sandsteinfassaden, rasselt
endlos das bunte Geröll
der Menschenmassen vorüber…

Und unabwendbar naht sich
die Machtergreifung des Lichtes.

Christina Egan © 2014


The rhythmic stream of words recreates an everyday and vibrating scene: the enlivening flow of the spring sunshine; the rolling-out of a silver carpet and a blue carpet — Westminster Bridge and the River Thames; an avalanche of colourful boulders or pebbles people from all over the world; and the upward pull of the bridge pillars and mighty buildings — the Houses of Parliament.

La veille / Nightwatch

La veille

Quelqu’un compte pour nous
les heures sans sommeil,
quelqu’un garde pour nous
les fleurs sans pareil.

Quelqu’un compte toujours
les larmes sans oreille,
quelqu’un garde toujours
les charmes de la veille…

Christina Egan © 2012

Huge liturgical book with very large writing and music, richly illuminated


Someone counts, rest assured,
inconsolable hours,
keeps all prayers secured,
incomparable flowers.

Someone counts day and night
tears unseen and unheard,
guards the circle of light
round a mind deeply stirred…

Christina Egan © 2016

I was thinking of angels or saints when I wrote these lines (twice, in French and in English); other humans might prefer to think of spirits or the only God. I hope there is no one on earth who has no comfort of this sort at all!

Photograph by ignis, via Wikimedia Commons [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0  or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0].

The Tea Turned Cold – VI

Please note the sixth part of an essay at POLITICS .

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work


We squeeze ourselves against the walls rather than driving the elephant out of the room. We keep patching broken china together or replacing it rather than acknowledging the existence of the elephant.

This is the early 21st century, and women all over the world, including all Western countries, are de facto second-class citizens. Most women – with or without children – live in servitude through domestic labour, while declaring themselves free from all shackles. Most women – whether poor or rich – are left behind men from childhood onwards, while deluding themselves that they possess equal opportunities.

Why is a housewife officially a housewife and stays so all her life, while an unemployed nurse is a nurse, a retired cleaner is a cleaner, and a sick teacher a teacher? Does the nurse not give her child dinner any more? Does the cleaner not clean her own home any more? Does the teacher not change her bed any more? Have they not all been homemakers besides their paid employment? Why is this simple fact denied? Why are homemakers derided, and any homemaking also?

Read more here.

Yellow teapot, full teacup, and jar of tea, in front of lettuce and herbs in little pots.Homemade herbal tea from the garden.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.

Standing in the Slush

Standing in the Slush
(February Haiku )


Standing in the slush,
by the bus stop, I’m looking
for lost memories.


Wet empty benches,
wet winding sand paths, furrowed
by hurried footsteps.


I’m rubbing my eyes,
weighed down by dreams, and there –
first leaves like lances!


Christina Egan © 2013

Like February Sparks, these haiku were written at the hardest time of the year, when our strength is about to be exhausted entirely. This is when we have to be strongest, when we have to fight hardest, as the previous post, Venus and Mars, describes. At least, in southern England, flowers appear very early, in winter, really, to cheer you up…!

Haltbare Rose

Haltbare Rose

Wenn ich mit einer Rose um dich würbe,
gewölbt, gefüllt, gedrängt und überfließend,
mit ihrer Gegenwart den Raum versüßend,
so wüßte ich, daß sie im Nu dir stürbe.
Und wenn ihr eine Faserblume gliche,
burgunderrot und makellos gewoben,
so wäre sie zwei Jahre todenthoben
und höchstens drei, bevor sie ganz verbliche.
Und wenn ich eine Bronzeblume fände,
so wäre doch ein Feuersturm ihr Ende,
in dem ihr unverrückter Glanz verglühe.
Ich schicke dir statt aller dieser Rosen
nur dies Gedicht, das deine Lippen kosen,
auf daß es bis zum Jüngsten Tage blühe.

Christina Egan © 2016

Advert reading "Long lasting flowers: Infinity Roses: 2-3 Jahre haltbar".This sonnet was inspired by an advertisement in a shop window: ‘Infinity Roses’, guaranteed to last two to three years. I found this hilarious: most love stories, which one naturally believes to be forever, last at most that long. Then they get cast away just like an artificial rose.

My idea was that a real flower lasts only a few days; an imitation of fabric or plastic (the German word leaves the material open) lasts only a few years; and even a sculpture of bronze might perish in a fire one day. A poem, however, may outlive them all! (The question whether the love will outlive them all remains.) Instead of kissing the poet, the beloved one turns the lines of the poem over on his or her lips. Well, that’s something at least…

Noch immer blühend

Ich lieb’ dich insgeheim schon seit drei Jahren,
was eine ungeheure Leistung ist –
von dir, der du noch immer blühend bist!
Ich bin berückt, und niemand darf’s erfahren.
Man will ja auch nichts Falsches offenbaren:
Ich liebe dich schon seit drei Jahren halb,
das macht dann immerhinque anderthalb.
Man muß zuweilen mit der Neigung sparen.
Wir sind sogar persönlich schon bekannt.
Zählst du wohl auch…? Drei Stunden insgesamt!
Drei Meter nur, dann einen Meter fort –––
Ich schicke, Liebster, dir zum Unterpfand
Nur eine rote Rose durch das Land:
Schau auf, steh auf und küß mich ohne Wort.

Christina Egan © 2017

This sonnet takes up the thought of Haltbare Rose in a satirical fashion: The woman has been in love with the man for three years already – but only half, which she counts as one-and-a half years!

Photograph: Shop window in Berlin. Christina Egan © 2016.

Alles drängt vorwärts

Alles drängt vorwärts


Fahrzeug um Fahrzeug,
bunte Menschen, Hunderte,
alles drängt vorwärts.
Durch das Adernetz der Stadt
rollt das Leben, das Sterben.


Kein einziger Stern,
bloß Wolken, Nebel und Staub
über den Dächern.
Doch Funken stieben, golden
und rot, über die Kreuzung.


Christina Egan © 2015/ © 2017

Busy junction in the dusk, with red and yellow lamps of cars and buses glaring.

These tanka were written in Bloomsbury, London,
one in summer and one in winter, one bright light
and one in dim light;  but the seasons and hours
make less difference in London than elsewhere…
For similar poems in English, go to Ripples of People.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016