W&N watercolour on Amedeo 200gsm – washing on my washline in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa
A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbours passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link
For neighbours always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.
For then you’d see the fancy sheets
And towels on the line;
You’d see the company table clothes
With intricate design.
The line announced a baby’s birth
To folks who lived inside
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.
The ages of the children could
so readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed
You’d know how much they’d grown.
It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.
It said, “Gone on vacation now”
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare.
New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy grey,
As neighbours raised their brows,
And looked disgustedly away.
But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody’s guess.
I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbours knew each other best
By what hung on the line!
- Author unknown