Oh, to be the washed linens and sheets
the towels and blouses and trousers,
all the underpinnings of dailiness—all sailing
and flapping on a sturdy line, releasing
their music of fabric to the air—
to be so wind-rinsed and cleansed,
down to the deepest thread.
~Andrea Potos “Small Ode to Laundry on the Line” from Her Joy Becomes
All day the blanket snapped and swelled
on the line, roused by a hot spring wind….
From there it witnessed the first sparrow,
early flies lifting their sticky feet,
and a green haze on the south-sloping hills.
Clouds rose over the mountain….At dusk
I took the blanket in, and we slept,
restless, under its fragrant weight.
~Jane Kenyon “Wash”
I may walk the streets
of this century and make my living in an office
but my blood is old farming blood and my true
self is underground like a potato.
I have taken root in my grandfather’s
fields: I am hanging my laundry beneath his trees.
~Faith Shearin from “Fields”
Here we stand breathless
And pressed in hard times
Hearts hung like laundry
On backyard clothes lines
Impossible just takes
A little more time
~Carrie Newcomer “You Can Do This Hard Thing”
For me, clean laundry freshly dried on the clothesline is a daily sacrament. True, the towels and sheets are rougher when the wind has snapped them into shape rather than a rolling dryer drum with fabric softener sheets. The scent of the outdoors more than makes up for the sandpaper feel. I love burying my face in the pile as I bring it inside to fold and put away.
Smoothing, folding, stacking, creating order out of a quotidian mess – laundry will be undone and redone in merely a week, yet is such a comforting routine.
Even when we ourselves are in disarray, when we are soiled and smelly, when we feel discarded into the dirty clothes hamper, we can be restored. Soapy water and fresh air readies us to be folded and smoothed and stowed away until we are needed.
We find our way back to purpose and meaning. We are loved so much that grime no longer defines us because we always (always) can be made clean.
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