Jean Moss Handknits

She has brows like a knitting machine; teeth
grinding, sliding back and forth, hands
tense twitching, like the furies, knitting revenge
into every stitch, like Madame Defarge,
the tricoteuse. Like Nero, she could be knitting
while Rome burned. For each

stitch that drops off the needle,
another head will roll. Stitch on
stitch, she builds a scaffold of reprisal
to shore up her pain and punish her foes,
fatally – clickety-clack. As she watches

the guillotine swing, she never lets go of those
knitting pins, pinning elbows to sides, tight,
pressing breasts together, like a turnkey, pointed,
like knives piercing nooses, tearing at thread
and yarn. She never lets up on the rhythm of plains
and purls and slip stitch over, knitting holes for the holy,
knotting sutures for her bleeding wounds. She knits

her worries into the fabric, repetition relieving her
heart’s terror. She experiences no trauma. The edge
of life is taken off, woven into lacy borders, colours,
a jacquard array, balm for her sorry soul. Falling apart,
she knits to keep herself whole.

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