Friday, September 15, 2006

Dirty Laundry In Cézanne’s Country #4: The Reply

Taking short, half-steps, Letty moved closer
to the path, to the strange pattern of clothes.
She moved her right foot, stared down, then brought up
her left foot. When she got back to the path,
she leaned forward with both hands on her thighs.
She studied how her roughly folded skirts
seemed to be nearly perfect triangles.

She took a step to her right and her toe
brushed against one of the balled-up stockings.
The stockings, that looked like a dot, were knocked
from their place in the pattern. The stockings
rolled down the path. They stopped by the basket.

When she accidentally kicked the socks,
Letty almost screamed. She looked left and right,
as if afraid someone might have seen her.

When the socks stopped by the up-turned basket,
Letty straightened up. Her lips were pulled down
in a deep frown. What’s wrong with me? she thought.
Look at me! Frightened of the dirty clothes!
I’m acting like— She stopped. Took a deep breath.

I’m acting like a little girl, she thought.

And then Letty smiled. She looked left and right,
as if she wanted to show off her smile.
But she was smiling for just trees and flowers.

Letty spoke, looking down at the laundry.
“I am not a little girl,” Letty said.

Taking aim, she kicked a skirt triangle.
The skirt tumbled, raising a little dust.
The triangle unfolded and the skirt
came to rest by the upside-down basket.

“I’m a grown woman,” Letty continued.

She kicked the nearest shirt, kicked it again
to bunch it up, then gave it a hard kick
to send it flying, too, by the basket.

“I came out here to wash clothes,” Letty said.

She kicked the rest of the balled up stockings
down the path and over to the basket.

She laughed as she ran back to what was left
of the strange pattern. “It doesn’t matter
if the clothes get more dirty,” Letty said.

Like a soccer player with cheering fans,
Letty kicked all of her skirts down the path.

“The clothes can get as dirty as they want
because I’m going to do the laundry.”

Letty kicked the remaining pants and shirts
to the basket. Breathing heavy, face flushed,
eyes bright, Letty tipped over the basket.
She kneeled down next to it and, piece by piece,
shook dust, dirt and leaves off the clothing and
put the dirty clothes back in the basket.

She stood up still smiling, took a deep breath,
and hefted the heavy laundry basket
up to her chest. She started down the path.

In the east, just visible through the trees,
the top of Mont Sainte-Victoire was shining
in the afternoon sunlight. But Letty
didn’t see it because she was walking
in the other direction with the clothes.
Most of the light shining on her was from
the sun overhead through shifting shadows
of tree leaves. But some light shining on her
was reflected light from Cézanne’s mountain.
Made of light and reflected light, Letty
walked off down the path to do her laundry.


No comments: