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Work-Clothes Quilt

ISSUE:  Fall 2010

With nothing but time
and the light of the Singer,
and no one to come now forever

and rattle the bell
at the backdoor and scatter
black mud on the stoop,
and make that small moan
as he heaves off his boots—

with no one to fill
the big kettle and set it,
and fall asleep talking
to the back of her neck
as the treadle-belt hums—

with nobody, nowhere
in need of such things,
she unbuckles his belt
for the last time

and cuts up his pant legs
and rips out the double-stitched seams,
making patches of plackets
and oil-stained pockets,
of kerchiefs, and collars, and sleeves,

her fingers setting the bobbin
and clamping the foot
until she’s joined every scrap she can salvage,

no matter how brown
with his sweat,
or stiff with his blisters,
or blooming his roses
of pine-tar, and gear-grease, and blood—


as the wedding clock chimes
and his buried bones freeze,
as frost gleams
at sunrise in the window,

she stands by the bed
and breathes his dark scent

then wraps herself
in it and sleeps.


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