I Stop Folding The Clothes

pink-chronicity Pyn·chro·nic·i·tyˌpiNGkrəˈnisədē/noun The happy certainty that something is just meant to be.

“I Stop Writing the Poem
to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I’ll get back
to the poem. I’ll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there’s a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it’s done.”
~ Tess Gallagher

Tess Gallagher wrote the poem above at what was probably the most fragile period of time in her life. Her life partner Raymond Carver just died six months after marrying her and she was in the vortex of writing poems for the soon-to-be-iconic collection “Moon Crossing Bridge“. Her poetic pause for reflection on the healing nature of mundane tasks and the importance of continuing with the seemingly endless chores life demands of us was profound for her. We can feel the grief behind her words. As she describes the ordinary yet necessary chore of folding clothes, we get it.

Sometimes, when it comes to ‘being of service’, we can’t even manage to be of service to ourselves. We are forced by the worst circumstances to sort through closets we don’t even want to look through, clean up after an endless barrage of visitors we don’t want to visit with and return a myriad of well-wishing emails and phone calls, when our driving need is to curl up under the blankets and never leave our bed. But that’s exactly why it’s important to make ourselves a cup of coffee and do the laundry.

It’s important for us to put one foot in front of the other, scrub a floor, make a pot of soup, fold a shirt. “No matter who lives or who dies”, we always have laundry. We can either avoid these small, repetitive acts of mundane service or use them to ground us and remind us: There will be a tomorrow and life goes on.

One comment

  1. Cori MacNaughton · August 19, 2017

    Simply beautiful . . . her writing, and yours.


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