I wash my hands because I touched the dog before I tie back my hair. I wash my hands because I touched my hair before I make the salad. Earlier, I washed my hair. Last week, I washed the dog. Later, I will wash the dishes. I am no priestess of domesticity with burnt offering of cast iron drying on the stove, germs sacrificed with drink offering of bleach, dog, untouched, seeking crumbs at his mistress’ feet. Yet my hands bear the stigmata of the rituals of cleanliness, which is nowhere near godliness, as God required of me only one washing. But I could be Pilate’s great, great granddaughter, intermittently aware of the futility of trying to keep my own hands clean. –Angela Micheli Otwell, 2006 (minor revisions 2020)
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