Amanda’s Sewing Thing
Years ago your grown children divided
your special things: gold-rimmed china,
etched crystal rarely touched by lips,
a silver tea set covered in plastic.
They followed your penciled instructions
left under a doily in the china closet.
Yesterday, in a soundless attic, I found
your sewing things: buttons in a cigar box,
lengths of calico, gingham, and tulle
and wooden spools of thread.
At the bottom was a pin cushion,
stabbed with a swirl of silver pins.
It took me back to your farmhouse,
hemmed in lilacs and green cornfields.
I watched you unfold a cutting board
on the dinner table, smooth tissue patterns
over lengths of bright cotton. Your scissors
clipped through paper, fabric, silence.
Across the room, I snipped paper dolls,
longing to shape fabric but too shy to ask.
The room hummed as you pumped the Singer.
I edged closer, charmed by your flying hands,
picked up discarded pins and mapped
a twirl of silver atop a pin cushion.
Here, then, in the remnants of a lost day,
I pinned hope to unspoken designs
while you stitched love for color and weave.
Here, among the undesired things
of a farm woman’s life, longing
pricked my palm once again.
Finalist in the 36th Annual Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest, Quad Cities, IA 2009