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Remembering My Mother Sewing
Marilyn Annucci

Evenings I’d find you
            bent over the dining room table
                        like a surgeon over a disembodied angel. 
Under five yellow lights
            you would rearrange
                        the wispy wings, pin them 
to the floral cotton,
            the blue corduroy—
                        the common material our bodies might fit.
This was the beginning
            of the reconstruction. You worked
                         with a quiet determination,
the knuckles of your long fingers
                        as you applied the tiny teeth
of the tracing wheel
            against the delicate skin. 
after your careful unpinning,
            the anticipated sundering
                        and airy uplift—
forgive me my moments of doubt—
            the mortal fabric
                        would lie there, yes,
bearing the marks ...
You knew in time                                                                        
            the dress or slacks would grow
                        too tight, or short,                                                
that our days would be a succession
            of stepping in and out of pants and skirts,
                        blouses and shirts,                                                
of turning in the long mirrors,
            wanting beauty,
                        lines that flatter,
cloth that carries the wearer
            when brains are not enough.
                        Yet wanting more than that.
Despite the turtlenecks and scarves
            you wear today to hide
                        your wrinkly neck. 
One day it will all come off. 
            Someone will bathe our bare bodies,
                        maybe efficiently,
perhaps with revulsion or fear.
            If we’re lucky
                        with tenderness.
I cannot bear to think of you this way.
            Your lovely, bony body
                         no more. 

Your dress folded over a chair.


From Luck (Parallel Press, 2000)
Used with the author's permission.


Marilyn Annucci, originally from Massachusetts, is now a professor at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. Author of several award-winning books, her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Marilyn enjoys long walks, cooking, and photography. Learn more about her at




Post New Comment:
What a surprise to find this poem on the day when I started a sewing project (not a frequent thing for me) and was just thinking of how Mother taught me to sew! Great choice and great poem. Thanks!
Posted 11/08/2010 01:31 PM
Ginny C.:
This poem travels a long way, and is very beautiful and loving.
Posted 11/05/2010 04:55 PM
Nabby Dog:
This is a profound and beautiful poem. I am deeply touched by the affectionate portrayal of the mother and equally moved that the speaker of the poem sees all her sewing though the eyes of love. What really moves this poem into the spectacular, however, are the final unsentimental allusions to death: her mother's, her own, and ours. If someone were to ask me, "What is it that you love about poetry?" I would answer, "Here, read this poem."
Posted 11/05/2010 06:17 AM

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