STITCHED CIRCLE IN THE CORNER OF A BORROWED BLANKET
Otherwise, in every way it’s generic—satin trim,
mustard yellow, blanket stitch to hem
the weave—the kind of cover that isn’t bought;
it just appears. They live in the guest closet
in case of a draft. This one belongs
to a rented room, a few days alone, arid wind,
and I have the same thought I always do, using others’ things,
though it doesn’t yet bore me to calculate
how many have warmed themselves with this blanket;
the pilling tells me it’s been years. I haven’t been
this close to this many people in a long time,
not accounting for passed time, and if we don’t,
I can watch a girl embroider, in coral thread, the ring
of sloppy backstitch at the corner, a protective gesture.
For such assurance, it was once custom to give
a coral necklace to teething babies. On the blanket’s reverse,
the thread is harder to find. There, it’s more an imprint,
like the slight changes in color of grass or soil
my father likes to detect the doors and rooms
of long-vanished people by.
Emma Aylor’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Colorado Review, the Yale Review Online, 32 Poems, New Ohio Review, and Cincinnati Review, among other journals, and she received Shenandoah’s 2020 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets.