I have the sewing box and pillow cases
you embroidered—having no children
to give them to. They comfort and hurt,
these flowered calligraphies, and the busy
sewing box I’d organize on visits home.
It’s a memory chest, dream embroiderer,
and you light of foot, hurrying home
from drudgery at the Elite Laundry
to mend socks and hearts; later your step
finical, trying to sidestep pain, your sewing
labored—with little left for me to organize.
It’s a sepulcher whose spools of thread,
buttons, thimbles, needles, and pins
are stilled, except for this my anniversary-
fussing with loose threads, drawing
them out straight, patting and checking
to see what’s there, what’s possibly
not there, these, can it be almost
twenty years of slow erasure?
This year I found a hidden drawer
not noticed before, a map of
home, avenues of nouns and static
verbs: Irontex Renew-a-Pocket,
25 cents a pair, no sewing, iron on!
And the felt needle-keeper cutout
of a bonneted girl’s silhouette I made
for you in fourth grade, whose black
bonneted head you trimmed in white
________The Irontex envelope
contains the patches, two holy cards,
prayers to Our Lady and a pamphlet
entitled, La Comunione dei Fedeli.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.