Jean Moss Handknits

Take fine threads; pure wool,
glossy silk, cotton, chenille.
Work in narrow bands.

Susanna’s a rainbow.
I weave her many coloured
as Joseph’s fine coat.

Isolde is Africa;
tawny as earth, copper, gold,
emerald, amber, brown.

Star’s the tender sky
of early evening; slate, mauves,
blue, pink, turquoise, jade.

Make them long, double;
carefully stitch, press, sew round
bobbles at each end.

My reward : women
who fold auras round them, wound
warm about their necks.

Being preoccupied,
she failed to notice
her own unravelling in patches -
pieces of her drifting into space.

When finally she did, jutting her fingers
through holes the size of apples,
she sat calmly down to calculate
the yarn necessary
to reconstruct a life.

The yarns arrived in lorries.
There was cashmere (the breath of babies),
mohair a spider might have spun,
chenille soft as a puffy chick,
alpaca and angora: rabbits’ jackets, coats for goats,
worsted and homespun for strength,
heavy aran, thick and twisted
as a sailing rope,
silk, the shine of moon on water.

All were dyed in colours bearing
magical names like legends:-

azure, aquamarine, amethyst, amber,
burgundy, copper, cornelian, cyan,
chartreuse, cerise, cerulean, heliotrope,
indigo, lapiz lazuli, madder, magenta,
saffron, turquoise, topaz, and verdigris.

Enchanted, she sat in their midst
for days, just touching, looking.

Then she picked up her fine
bamboo needles; began to knit
her childhood home, long ago lost.
Building stones the colour of sunshine
she fabricated the mansion, created
simple airy spaces, with scarcely any furniture,
and that there was, old as her ancestors.
She made tall, narrow windows, paned,
arched at the top; sunlight
streaming in bright, wide panels
full of dust motes floating.
With the aran she wove
long floorboards in a long room
for her to dance upon.

She fashioned a bed shaped like a boat,
dressed all in white, of the most
luxurious cotton, mohair, cashmere.
At its foot, a corner shelf
on which she placed chinese
ceramic burial musicians
she had remembered, and copied,
to play her awake in the morning.

Now she forgot to feel homesick,
and stitched her new body
bonded lithe, supple, strong
well meshed and interlocked,
so that she might dance.
Her new brain sparked like fire, full
of languages, memories, names
of things she’d loved.
Her new hands, nimble, agile,
continued at her task.

She set her home in fairisle fields
spattered with buttercups;
bluebell woods beneath lime leaves
of embroidered trees;
banks of blackthorn scrub,
wood anemones, primroses,
all ranged above a little river
of spangled threads sparkling.

And now, tiring of being alone
she knit herself a partner,
moved him, and then four children, in.
Her knitting needles flew for them,
her hands full of joy.

Time passed, as it will,
until, alone again, content,
still holeless and complete, one day
she made a fine but simple grave,
a mossy stone
lettered in bright colours,
reading SHE WAS,
which she considered,
being being difficult,
a great achievement,
which not everyone aspires to.

She set aside her needles.
She lay down.



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