Essays / Faculty

“June 29, 1863” by Teresa Carson


June 29, 1963

Across the state of Ohio,
across the counties of Ashtabula, Pickaway, Drake, Cuyahoga, and Stark,
across the towns of Pigeon Run, Winesburg, Rome, and Paradise,
women wash clothes on Mondays.
The women of Ohio believe the Creator of all things is a Being of system and order
and therefore believe each hour must
be systematically employed;
they must cultivate regulated habits in regard to household chores.
The women believe these habits will bring forth fruits of good or ill,
not only through earthly generations but through everlasting ages.
Thus, on Mondays, the women of Ohio wash clothes—
a task that leaves no time to cook benevolent provisions so on Sundays they bake hams, which can be eaten cold next day.
Their men have gotten used to this.
Washday begins at dawn when women tote buckets from rivers and wells.
Then hours and hours of scrub/rinse/wring/dip/hang.
As evening falls, their lye-cracked hands sprinkle and roll the clothes
for ironing on Tuesday.
Their mothers trained them how to wash and how to hang a proper line—
whites in sun, colors turned wrong side out, sheets hiding petticoats—
and they, who do not eat the bread of idleness,
will train their daughters in these same domestic rules
because the women of Ohio know
evil results from disorder.

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