Lake Effect, Spring 2009, Volume 13: Clothesline

David Shumate



On gray mornings like this she hangs a red dress out on the clothesline.  Her sister asked about it once and she explained it’s a kind of metaphor.  Already today three pickup trucks have geared down as they passed, the drivers cocking their heads.  It’s become a topic of conversation at the church a mile away.  Along with the old style pink bra and panties she puts out on Saturdays.  They suspect it’s a kind of code.  A display of willingness.  Then there’s the teenage boy who claims he saw her on the night of the full moon swimming naked in her pond.  Naked as Eve in the garden.  Inside the old farmhouse, her father is slowly fading.  She fixes his favorite suppers.  Stuffs and lights his pipe.  He calls her by her mother’s name.  All day long he sits by the window and watches the red dress flap in the breeze.  That girl he once married…She’s out there flirting with him all over again.