by Martin Willitts Jr.
Based on Archibald J. Motley’s painting “Mending Socks”, 1924
She has mended a generation of socks.
She is old as the waxed fruit in the bowl.
Her hands are furrowed as years in the fields.
There were times when she felt
like she would never be done,
she would find herself repairing the hole in the dark.
She would work in her dreams, always
picking threads of cotton.
I would find her in her chair, a soft snore,
the socks on her lap like sad tired children.
I would try not to disturb her, pulling a blanket up.
She would look at me with woolen eyes.
What do think you are doing? I am not done.
When she was in a casket like a knitting basket,
I expected her to scold me for coming home late,
for forgetting my skin was nightshades,
for gambling and consulting with shameful women,
for wearing toes through my socks
like I never seem to care how much it cost to get new ones.
When I saw her with a darning needle in her hand,
I burst into a carnal cry for the years spent wasted.
One of her grandchildren tugged me on the cuff,
Are you the one she loved as much as sewing?
I knew then a generation is held together by threads.
Last updated August 15, 2011