“Colouring Book Houses: Clotheslines” by Deborah Stephan
I love laundry
I’ve said it yes laundry
I like laundry lists
Pulling the cotton line in
Standing on the stoop
Filling the loop
As it went
Around the wheels
Back in the day, I painted a scene of clothes drying on a line as one of a series of primitive landscapes with watercolour and charcoal. These were from my inner landscape: soul paintings all. Even my art professor took notice.
Today, as I prep to write, I read in Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World: “Sometimes when people ask me about my prayer life, I describe a laundry list.” For someone not wanting to work on an essay, a blog post becomes a diversion. Another day, meaning to start a blogpost, I add something to an essay. Something similar happens in praying. One thing leads to another word association and even a little diverting word play. I guess I am parenting myself and have to apply discipline at some point to get the actual task done. But for now, I digress, and happily so.
Yes, hanging the laundry – I feel the wind, the sun, or who could forget the exact feeling of holding frozen clothes – hands stinging red unfastening the stuck clothespins? But Mom, I can’t fold these, I offer. The answer comes from afar, just stack them across the basket. I am the oldest after all. Tiny icicles melt on my red fingers. If I observe, as I am wont to do, I see designs like on frozen windowpanes.
I have never really liked the cold, that is why I moved from Ontario to B.C. I have done a lot of laundry in my life. I do like to have things clean. I am one of those people who watched in wonder as her ex-spouse’s muddy work clothes went round and round in the white suds. Bubbles were dirty but clothes came out clean. Even the rhythm of the agitator pleased me.
I wished we could have put our marriage through that kind of process but it had to be hung out to dry and permanently frozen, no matter how many prayers were hung in a row over the years.
Yet the praying remains. The laundry list continues as does the cleaning – for other loved clothes now. The clothesline has become a breathing lifeline of hanging requests daily reeled in and out; a spiritual discipline.