Thursday, March 09, 2006
I found four old wooden clothespins in a pile of junk at an auction a while ago. One red. One green. One blue. And one unpainted. The wood was smooth from years of use. For some reason they gave me a good feeling, so I stuck them in my pocket. When I got home I sat them on the windowledge in the kitchen where I have been looking at them for the past six months. I think I have them figured out. They remind me of the alley at Winthrop Drive where my mom and loads of other mom's hung their wet laundry while we kids rode our bicycles in the obstacle course created by crooked clothes poles and clean sheets. On quiet days when everyone had gone off to school and I was left to play alone, I'd gather up the clothespins, sort them by color and pretend that they were armies at war and sometimes families at war and other times good girls and bad girls. The bad girls were always red. When my mother needed more clothespins, I'd pretend one died, or went to school, which was a lot like dying as far as I could tell. When I went to kindergarden someone made an apron for me with pockets across the front. In each pocket was a clothespin dressed in scrap fabric that looked like a dress. I brought the apron to school to wear at craft time to protect my clothes. Between the start of school and the Chrsitmas holiday, the apron got pushed back deep in my cubby where I forgot about it. Just before the holiday break we made plasters of our hands to give to our mother for Christmas. I was looking for something when I found the apron abandoned at the back of the cubby. I pulled it out and tried to smooth out the wrinkles and wrap it around my neck, when one of the clothespin dolls fell out. I was filled with an intense rush of homesickness. I longed for those days in the alleyway watching my mother hang and fold clothes. I got in trouble that morning at school, holding the red clothespin doll in my hand.