Poem: The Place Where Socks Go

January 12, 2018

I have loved this poem since I discovered it at the beginning of high school. It was actually written by my Uncle. I love the relatable humour, the fact that almost everyone has experienced the act of the disappearing single sock in the washing machine. However, when you look closer, it becomes clear that this poem is also about loss, death and heaven.


I think this message can be transferred to patients in a medical setting too. It is easy to take things at face-value, and simply go with what you see from the outset. However, it is so important to delve deeper, look closer, find out more. Patients often come to the GP with one problem, but actually, that was just a facade and they actually wanted to ask something much more personal than the initial presentation. However, a doctor would not find this out unless they look beyond the obvious. 


On a different note, I recorded this poem as a spoken word set to music in a creative attempt to show how music can affect the meaning and feeling of a poem.


 The place where socks go


There's a place where socks go

      when the washing is done,

when the driers have dried

      and the spinners have spun,

when it's past eight o'clock

      and there's no one about

and the launderette's locked—

      then the odd socks come out.


There is hosiery here

      of each pattern and hue,

some plain, striped or spotted,

      some black, red or blue,

some worn only once,

     some so old they have formed

to exactly the shape

     of the foot they once warmed.


Some were brought back from Sock Shops

     in airports in France,

some were hideous presents

     from matronly aunts,

but in all their variety

     one thing is shared—

to the place where socks go

     they will not go pre-paired. 


Then the odd socks remaining

     are placed in the chest

(they must turn up sometime—

     now where was that vest?)

and new socks come at Christmas

     and birthdays bring more

and the old lie, alone,

     at the back of the drawer.

And maybe, one evening

     when memory is low,

they too slip away

     to the place where socks go

and in silent reunion,

     each one with its pair,

they join in the dance

     with the other things there—


the letters unanswered,

     the calls not returned,

the promises broken,

     the lessons not learned,

the lost afternoons,

     the appointments unmade,

the best of intentions,

     the debts never paid,


and the friends not kept up

     and the others let down—

in the ragbag of conscience

     they waltz sadly round,         

beyond the respite

     of the washing machine,

no amount of detergent

     can now get them clean


till that day when all laundry

     is washed white as snow,

and everyone's tumbled

     and soft soap must go,

when nothing is hidden

     but all is revealed

and socks shall be holy

     and souls shall be healed.



-Godfrey Rust-


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Manchester, UK


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