Scrutinized by strangers, the work of your young hands
displayed here on an iron bedstead. I run my thumb along its paths,
the concave lines you might avoid retracing, opposition
to the hopefulness of interlocking rings but even so a structure.
Beneath the bold geometry, your seasons whisper. Was he gone
from May till November, working another man’s fields, while your life
took shape from within, like sin, domesticity your pleasure?
I can almost see a daughter playing peek-a-boo behind the edge—
your eldest girl, who one day fled.
Decades later at this autumn fair the stains are sun-bleached,
scrubbed by wind, dimmed by the alternate patch, that blue-jay blue—
what someone else would notice from across a room, the rings
appearing broken from that distance in a long-established way,
hinting patience or its opposite.
There’s no pattern to explain why a granddaughter or a caring niece
declined your quilt to warm her bed. Times change. Maybe it didn’t go
with Danish Modern. And look—the cotton’s thin. In truth, wasn’t it always,
the cheap fill, your stitches only threads of summer breeze?
Yet something in its homely comfort makes me lift it from the stack
of better-made, those graced with an artist’s eye you lacked.
I hold it to my face and catch again your lingering scent,
haven’t then the heart to fold it up or put it back.
From Back Where We Belong (Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press 2012).
Used with the author’s permission.