V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




At school I never learned the circle, line.
We traced hands to make turkeys, drew
half a heart on a fold. Each Valentine
creased. “Contrast” meant yellow with blue.
At home I followed Mom’s project design:
cut with care around the pattern tissue,
stitch felt teeth onto a shark-puppet’s face,
trim French-knotted pillows with lace.


A gift from Mom my first Halloween
at college: a five by five inch cotton sachet
stuffed with cloves, cinnamon. A velveteen
ribbon connected corners. On display:
pumpkins cross-stitched in orange with green
stems still on the vine. I wanted to pray
for you, she wrote on a post-it note affixed,
so I did with each of the 3,300 stitches.


November. Six months shy of twenty-one
I sewed words in variegated thread—
shades of blue—as clouds spun
sheets of rain outside. My friend
was dead. I caressed ribbons we’d won,
“Snow Birds” for clarinets stuck in my head.
Her mom requested a square, not song,
for a memory quilt. I stitched until dawn. 


Non-representational an artist might say,
the memory of the spool. But I see
body, luminous in lines of gray,
black. One thread, one strand free
of shadow, crossed, spiraled, turned away:
scar with bridge of flesh, kidney,
fingernail, lips, triangle above thighs,
thumbprint. The irises of her eyes.

© by Christine Stewart-Nunez


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