The Sacred Wash

Jerrice J. Baptiste

The women stretch their clothes on the line tied between two grenadia trees, in the circular sun. It’s noon, and the wash by hand is complete. Sweat drips, their moumous cling to their backs. The waterfall from the mountaintop invites them to swim for a moment, a vibrant song on lips thanks the waterfall for flowing. Each woman gets out of the water with a helping hand from another. Heat of sun dries their moumous quickly on their bodies and their wise faces glow. Homemade grenadia juice in a jug and water from a blessed well is shared. The two elders with gray hair drink first. They take three sips, the jugs are passed to the right on to the next woman, completing the circle of eight. They gather their sandals, and tie on their blue or white headscarves before they pick up their woven baskets. The elders lead the way home through the woods of the mountain. Before sundown, they will make the same trip back in the cool shade to gather sun rays hiding in clothes.

Jerrice J. Baptiste is a poet and author of eight books. Her writing has appeared in Kosmos Journal, Autism Parenting Magazine, Pivot, and So Spoke the Earth: Anthology of Women Writers of Haitian Descent. She facilitates creative writing workshops where she lives in New York.
Originally published:
April 29, 2019



Race Off

The fantasy of race transformation
Namwali Serpell


Suicide in Fiction, Reconsidered

Why we need stories about living after a suicide attempt
Morgan Thomas


Discipline and Abolish

Writing, power, and mass incarceration
Rachel Kushner,
Caleb Smith

You Might Also Like

Pandemic Files

I Can’t Sleep

After days of witnessing racial violence, respite is no longer a given
Emily Bernard

Pandemic Files

Pandemic Inequality

The two worlds of social distancing
Octávio Luiz Motta Ferraz

A Witness to Survival

Hannah Sassoon


Become a subscriber to get four beautiful issues a year for just $49—and help keep print culture alive.