Laundry Rebellion + Edgewalker Green
By Shiloh Sophia from the WISHBONE :
The Muse at the Back Door Stories (coming Spring 2021)
The Muse is at the back door tonight.
I hear her peculiar knock-scratch-scuffle
when I am drying the dinner dishes.
I drop the dishtowel on the floor.
I open the door as fast I can.
She is gone, just like that.
When I pick up the wet dishtowel
and throw it across the kitchen,
something in me stirs, a restless seeking
for something I cannot grasp.
This is the night I stop folding laundry.
I dump the hot pile of clothes
onto each person’s bed while they watch tv.
My son, my daughter and my husband.
I only fold my own laundry.
It feels weird. Rebellious and ridiculous.
At night, when my husband comes to bed,
he just gets in with the pile on top.
Does he see and choose not to do it?
Is he too, rebelling in his own way?
I don’t understand.
We don’t talk about it.
Is this how marriages get into trouble?
By not talking about the small-big stuff?
It is the next morning
half of his clothes are on the floor,
half are on the bed.
He manages to get dressed
from some part of the pile.
In years like this it matters less,
if your clothes are half-wrinkled
since we work from home.
Sometimes I see him in a shirt and tie,
with sweatpants on the bottom.
The next day goes by, and the next,
and no one has folded their laundry.
My experiment seems to be failing.
The children are getting
dressed from their pile.
I head to the art studio to add a layer
of paint to my canvas, I am angry.
I don’t know what else to do with ‘this’ feeling.
As if something is going to break or is broken.
I try to stop thinking about the laundry.
If no one cares but me,
why should I fold it for them?
I am baffled by
this simple breakdown of systems.
I am struck by how my laundry rebellion
is harder on me than on them.
I add a layer for my anger.
I add a layer for my inquiry of why I care.
This canvas is too small for my mood.
I try to change my mood
and it is changing, slowly,
rage turns to restlessness.
When I run out of phthalo green
I almost start to cry.
I realize I need to get out of the house.
I put on my mask and my musey sunglasses.
I tried to find some as big as hers.
I brave going to the art store.
The aisles are empty
and the supplies are scarce.
And I can’t find the phthalo green paint.
I almost can’t believe it.
In my panic I move to the paper section.
I love the paper stacks. Abundance from Italy.
As I am smelling the paper,
a girl/boy with green hair, and a nose ring,
horn-rimmed glasses and a mask with
a dragon on it
walks up and asks
“May I help you find something?
What kind of paper are you looking for?”
I say “The kind of paper
that can solve the mystery of the universe”
They reply “I never try that kind of paper
before happy hour”
I say “What color of green is that, your hair?”
I am noticing his/her hair is even better than
the one I am looking for.
I like to smell the paper too.
I like to sniff the expensive stuff—
Smells like a wet dog when you wet it.
Try this one”
I smell it and tell them “I like it too.”
They beckon me to follow them
to the journal section
with the thick paper, for “mixed media”.
I add four new journals to my cart.
I ask them if they will show me how to make
the color of seamonster green in paint.
They nod yes. Somehow they seem pleased.
They put three colors in my basket.
None of them are phthalo.
“The full name is phthalo green is phthalocyanine blue.
The phthalo short for naphthalic, from naphtha denoting
the organic compounds and mixtures – chemicals really.”
But you don’t need it to make seamonster green.”
I am mesmerized by their eyes, also green.
I am staring at them without reserve.
I say ”Wow, your eyes match your hair,
you are just so beautiful, thank you.”
This tough one gets tears in their eyes,
and tells me shyly
“No one has told me that before.”
Why this makes me furious,
I do not know.
My rage these days moves from topic
to topic like wildfire.
I buy the journals.
I buy the wet-dog paper.
I buy the paint
I buy the pens.
They talk me into a really big canvas.
Bigger than 24X36 scares me a bit.
Will 4X5 fit in the car?
I don’t want to leave.
They don’t leave my side.
Somehow we are keeping
each other company.
Are we lonely hearts in the art department?
No one else is in the whole store.
Somehow we feel safe
here in amongst the paint
and pens behind the masks
talking about stinky paper.
When it is time to ring up my purchase,
I see their nametag for the first time:
Edgewalker Pronoun: They/Them.
I realize that they have found a new name
and they are self-determining their identity.
Again the tears, WTF what is wrong with me?
“I haven’t found my name yet,”
I tell them as if they will know what I mean,
and they do. Of course, they do.
Edgewalker pauses and contemplates their reply
“I found mine name on the sidewalk,”
“People had stepped all over it,
it had gum stuck to it,
and a weedy orange flower
growing right out of it,
and I just picked it up and put it on.
It fit, I kept it.
A forgotten name that no one wanted,
but that suits me just fine.
I don’t want to be with those
who don’t call me by my real name.”
I am transfixed by their words and presence—
I manage to nod yes as if I understand.
“Was it a poppy?”
“The orange flower, was it a poppy? A California poppy?
“I guess so” they say, almost shyly.
The beautiful flower, they call a weed.
Now it is my turn to share “California poppies
are considered weeds,
but they are welcome weeds
because they show the soil is good.
And, able to support growth”
“Once you find your lost name you can sing about.
But wait. You may even be able to sing
in order find your name! Ya! Try that!
That’s a good one. Paint and sing to find your name.
But don’t tell anyone, not at first. ”
Edgewalker smiles, I can see it by their eyebrows.
The green of their eyes shimmers, shines behind glasses.
“Look for your name in here,”
Edgewalker says, pointing to my art supplies.
I nod my yes and assure them I will.
I am trying to remember their sage wisdom.
Edgewalker walks my pile to the car with me.
We are going almost slower than we need to.
Stretching out our time.
At the end when we are all loaded up
and waving goodbye,
I realize in other times
I would have hugged them.
But instead, I remove my mask
and smile as I am waving.
They stop, they remove their mask,
and smile back at me,
revealing a smile that melts my heart.
I know immediately they don’t give
that smile out to just anyone.
Especially these days.
I feel I have been blessed by Edgewalker.
I rush home.
I make an altar of paper journals and pens in my studio.
I set up my paint and put the new canvas
onto the easel.
Then I do something really weird.
I spit into my hand
and mark my canvas with saliva.
I have no idea what this means.
I just wanted that canvas
to have my dna in it.
Am I marking it?
I want to dive in, but not yet.
I turn on the Rolling Stones, loud.
I am dancing in the living room when
the family comes in, surprised to see me.
I jump onto the couch and use the remote control
for my microphone.
They join me, slowly
but soon we are in it to win it.
That’s when I call for a laundry-folding party.
We visit each room, and everyone helps everyone,
and we are done quickly and we dance through
the house singing ‘Start me up’.
In my heart
I thank Edgewalker for their influence on me today,
As I don’t think, no,
I know, I would not have thought of this,
without meeting them.
My husband orders pizza.
When the dog Lazarus
farts under the table, we start laughing.
We are laughing so hard—We are almost silly.
My anger releases into laughter.
We are all relieved, I think.
This was a good week to stop folding laundry.
A good day to run out of green paint.
As I walk away from the pile of dishes,
I think about the new journals.
and my delicious black pens,
stinky paper, and the green paint I will make
that is the color of Edgewalker’s hair
and my giant spitty canvas.
Everyone goes to bed.
When all are asleep
I sneak downstairs.
I check the back door
Just in case the Muse is there waiting,
maybe she is in my studio.
I make a messy batch of
Edgewalker green paint.
The yellow, blue and silver.
Trying to remember the hair.
I spill some on my nightgown.
I remove my nightgown.
I paint my thighs
and my belly with marks.
Leaves shaped like marks.
Ever notice how a pure brush stroke
is like a slender leaf or branch?
I paint my face without looking in the mirror.
I am marked by the Muse now.
I try to find my name by humming.
I sing as I paint myself.
Then I begin with my intention.
I intend to awaken aliveness.
I layer green drips onto my canvas.
I turn the canvas in different directions.
I spill paint on the floor in a place I should not.
I do it again. I am marking the carpet
like a dog marks a tree.
This is my studio.
I don’t want to protect the carpet anymore.
I can be messy here if I want to.
My painting is nothing but a pile
of green seamonster paint marks.
Then I go for blue, yellow
and splash of silver marks.
Then I add quinacridone gold.
I want to make my own color
that has never been made before.
I am working it out.
I am so satisfied.
My anger is dissolving.
I call this green, Wilderness Green.
I realize I can change my approach at home,
by how I ask for what I need.
Duh. I know that.
Why is it so much easier to get mad,
than it is to create a solution that works
for everyone? I don’t know.
Blame it on covid.
Yes the mommie may have to think of it first
and enroll everyone else. Mommie needs paint!
I went looking for green paint.
I was looking for life,
for something alive.
for life within myself.
I was looking for my Muse.
Who knew what would happen
the week I stopped folding the laundry!
I feel too restless to sleep.
I decide to look somewhere else for life.
Somewhere I haven’t been in a while.
I look inside.
I am leafing my own forest,
seeking for aliveness.
I find it between the green hills of my thighs
I find it high on a mountain
I press into the silver sliver of moonlight.
I don’t know my name
but I know what my name feels like.
My name feels, GOOD.
I add a little bit of that goodness to the canvas.
This is my painting.
My life. And yes, my family.
Since it is my life
I get to define it.
I am learning how.
No one told me I could do this.
I am unfurling my own story.
This is how it works.
The wilderness I seek is inside.
Of course, I say to myself.
“Of course” says the Muse.