Running a "Gauntlet"

The way Mother "couples" the "multi-colored" wet things to the white lines with clothespins makes me think she "resembles" a "maiden" in the Shawnee tribe who once lived in this little valley. When the clothing "reacts" to a sudden breeze so the "unfettered" ends of the "fabric" flap, she begins "cavorting," and my lungs balloon with her impulse and the cool, happy air, making me strain to hold back my laughter, not wanting to "interrupt" her pleasure.

I'm only watching, and Mother is dancing with "garments," the clothes of her two sons inside, the older watching the younger play with toys. She kicks off her shoes so the green hairs of the earth tickle her feet. She's an "apparition" of her "inner self," as a book I read called the soul. Twice she skips from one end of the lines to the other and back the way these words skip across the pages of my vocabulary exercise book.

The first time she slaps the blue metal pipes shaped like big Tees so hard that on the farthest crossbar two wooden clothespins fly from her hand like two wrens. But she lets them go, doesn't stop and bend down for them. She's having fun for a change, jumping on the front of her feet the way I run sprints, twirling this way and that, back and forth between the shirts and pants, letting her head brush the shorter things, the socks and undershirts and hankies.

Her unbuttoned blue sweater, her yellow apron, her pink flowery dress burst up around her like blooms, leap up so her slip shows, but she doesn't care. I'd be yelling Whooie or Yahoo, and want to right now, but this is her dance. She's in the spotlight, she's part of the air, part of the sun, one of the clouds up there "scudding" by down here on the earth. The glee in her panting matches the clicking of the metal O-rings as the rope looped inside them loosens and jerks tight in the gusts, which are the breath of the "Great Spirit," who is in everything.

"Manitou." The second time coming back she throws her arms out and turns so their "centrifugal force" spins her faster, so quickly she trips and falls. Hearing her "guffaw" makes me laugh aloud now because I feel happy myself, reaching for a hand to help her up, seeing her bare knees stained green from the grass and brown from the ground.

Her hand is dirty taking my hand, and her face is "drenched." The laughter has "transformed" into sobbing. I go silent again and "hasten" to do her "bidding," to check on my younger brothers inside, to fill the basket with what's in the washing machine, my Dad's clothes, and to bring them outside to her. As soon as they dry and she irons them, she says, I should try them on and see if they fit. 

Bill Vernon studied English literature, then taught it. Writing is his therapy, along with exercising outdoors and doing international folk dances. His fiction and nonfiction occasionally appear in journals and anthologies, and Five Star Mysteries published his novel, Old Town.

You can see more of his work in 3.4 and 1.2

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