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Ars Poetica: Starting Over

after Judy Halebsky

I have forgotten how to choose fabric by the feel
of the drape, how to tell by touch what will fall into folds
under its own weight. And I have forgotten
how to alter a pattern, lay the seam edge along the selvage,
make something new from a remnant.

I remember how it felt to stand between my mother’s knees,
her arms around my arms, her hands on mine, as together
we sewed a gathering stitch. She sang as she sewed—
sang sometimes, even as she ripped out stitches,
undid seams that did not fit.

I remember the times she started over.
I tell myself to trust my hands—so like hers
in size and shape—to take up the cloth as she did,
hold it lightly for a while, close my eyes,
imagine what I will make of this.

—From “Seaworthy,” @ 2018 River Rock Books

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